By: Dr. David Bridwell, People Scientist
Recently, an article popped up that caught my eye. The title was “Gillette rolls out new spot with gaming streamer Dr. Lupo.” Curious, I went to check out this commercial, and as I watched it, I realized that it reflects an important change that’s going on, and that’s the change in how we see influencers.
Typically, we’re used to spokespeople being famous celebrities or famous sports figures. Stars like Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal are who we expect to see promoting products. But the face of Gillette in this ad is an online twitch streamer involved in eSports–it’s a whole new face of what a spokesperson can look like. (A face that is admittedly unrecognizable to me, being out of touch with eSports streaming).
It’s not the kind of spokesperson we’re used to seeing, but on the other hand, it’s not surprising given the rise of eSports and the rise of streamers and their popularity. Interest has continued to grow, and marketers are certainly aware, but they don’t seem to be aware enough. They don’t seem to appreciate gaming for what it is and what it can become, i.e. it’s a form of social media, and it’s possible that it can overtake our current view of what “social media” is.
Online streaming allows people to be social together and to engage in memorable and immersive experiences. As a result, streamers are getting a celebrity like status, and their status increase is likely to continue as a result of gaming habits formed during the global pandemic.
One reason why is that traditional celebrities or traditional sports figures are going to have a difficult time having the leverage that they had because of issues delivering sporting events and issues with film production, creating an opportunity for online figures to take their place. And there’s already quite a bit of data hinting at an eSports takeover: Verizon reported a 75% increase in gaming the week after the first coronavirus quarantine, and the Kake cultural barometer claimed that eSports was overtaking regular sports among 18-to-34-year-old demographic in 2019.
It’s a habit that’s gonna stick with us, and it’s really important to consider the mindset of those who are involved. Because if you want to engage with this audience, then you have to understand their experience and perspective.
The Gillette ad featuring Dr. Lupo looks strange to an outsider, but those immersed in the game see a figure that they’re in touch with and connected with. They see a personalized shaving kit for their favorite eSports streamer, making it a powerful message that’s impactful.
And in addition to using a familiar face, Gillette also got in touch with the twitch online community, and in February of 2020, they partnered and created the Gillette gaming alliance. They created the bits for blades program where fans could go and purchase Gillette products and collect twitch bits. Twitch bits are a virtual good that the users can send in the chat to support and cheer on their favorite streamers. So, they’ve embedded the purchasing of the product with the engagement that people have within the game.
Going forward, we should expect to see more eSports streamers as celebrity sponsors, and we should expect to see unexpected personalities serving as influencers. This reflects the changing landscape of consumer behavior and the new communities people are forming as they develop new online habits.
It’s important for brands to think about how they can engage with these different audiences. Ask yourself if your product fits or resonates with these communities? How can your brand get involved? Overall, marketers should acknowledge the rise of gaming and the notion that the gaming experience shapes the perspective of this audience. It provides a way to engage a new crowd using a new population of sponsors, helping your product engage and grow with a new customer base.