The Optic Gaming Scuf House has been decorated by sponsor Turtle Wax.
Optic Gaming
By John Gaudiosi
April 18, 2016

Turtle Wax is the latest nonendemic brand to enter the growing eSports arena. The car care company has entered into a three-month sponsorship with Optic Gaming, one of the top Call of Duty professional teams in the world.

Turtle Wax products, including its Dash & Glass and M.A.X.-Power Car Wash cleaners, will be integrated into Optic Gaming’s videos and activities. The brand will also be featured on the team’s official game jerseys.

Turtle Wax has decorated the garage of the pro team’s Chicago-based Optic Gaming Scuf House with branded graffiti and artwork. This setting is regularly used as a backdrop for livestreaming and video content. Optic Gaming reaches an audience of over 5 million fans, including over 1.2 million Twitter followers.

In addition, Optic Gaming will integrate Turtle Wax into its road trip to Austin for the ESPN X Games June 2 to 5. Other partnership activities include social media promotions and giveaways, as well as additional photo and video shoots featuring the team’s cars and Turtle Wax products on a regular basis throughout the campaign.

While at first glance combining car care products with gamers who play Activision Blizzard’s (atvi) Call of Duty doesn’t seem like a natural fit, fans of the team know that cars are a big part of their lives.

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“90% of my vlogs are in my car as I’m driving to and from the Optic House,” says Hector Rodriguez, founder of Optic Gaming. “Crimsix (Ian Porter) does at least one car video a week. And we talk about our cars daily. Our fans know what cars we drive.”

Courtney Lauer, director of marketing for Turtle Wax, says the company has been exploring more user-generated content since working with its Shine Squad, influencers in the automotive community who talk about its products.

“It’s been a great way of showcasing the products on cars and talking directly to their network in their voice,” Lauer says. “We’re applying that to eSports and using more authentic content to talk about the brand in a way that consumers want to hear about.”

Rodriguez says he turns down sponsorships left and right because they’re not organic enough.

“We’re not just putting something on our jerseys, we work with our sponsors in much more of a partnership role,” Rodriguez says.

Case in point, Optic Gaming suggested a video series would be a good way to connect the Turtle Wax brand with its audience.

Rodriguez says this three-month deal is a first for his team, which normally requires a one-year commitment.

“Turtle Wax hopes to renew the sponsorship after the first quarter, but this is their first time into eSports,” Rodriguez says. “We’re opening up doors for brands to understand that they don’t have to step in for a full year with this quarterly activation.”

The Turtle Wax deal comes on the heels of Optic Gaming’s partnership with Pepsico-owned (pep) Brisk Iced Tea, which is promoting its Brisk Mate line of drinks through the pro gaming team.

Peter Warman, CEO of research firm Newzoo, says the recent eSports television coverage by Turner Sports and ESPN is having a positive impact on attracting brands.

“It’s an acknowledgement of the eSports space that these media companies move in, so brands feel more confident that they are making the right choice,” Warman says. “Secondly, it allows them to sponsor and advertise in a way that they are used to.”

Coca-Cola (ko) has had success connecting its brand with Tencent Holdings-owned Riot Games’ League of Legends eSports over the past two years.

According to Heinrich Zetlmayer, managing director of ESL, 2016 will see an accelerated growth of nonendemic consumer brands’ engagement in eSports.

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