As mobile esports continues to gain momentum worldwide, leading publisher Riot Games has secured one of the biggest non-endemic sponsors, Coca-Cola, for its first competitive season of League of Legends: Wild Rift. It’s a huge vote of confidence in the mobile esport from a brand that helped to establish League of Legends Esports – Coke was a major sponsor from 2013 to 2016.
As part of the new multiyear deal, all regional leagues for Wild Rift will be affiliated with Coca-Cola (which has never happened before in Riot’s esports deals), and the soda brand will collaborate on content creation for a weekly series about Wild Rift. All told, the partnership covers more than 100 countries where Wild Rift is played.
For Coca-Cola, the mobile esports provides an opportunity for the brand to reach an even broader audience across the globe. PC/console gaming remains massive, but smartphones provide gaming experiences for billions of people. Valeria Herzer, senior director of global gaming, influencers, and new platforms at Coca-Cola, explained to Adweek that “mobile gaming and mobile esports appeals to new audiences globally,” and that this new deal felt like a natural expansion of the brand’s previous work with League of Legends.
Riot Games is strategically aligned with Coca-Cola, as it believes its mobile esports business is truly going to reach a wide global audience. “There’s a whole new generation growing up using a phone as their only or their primary gaming device,” Leo Faria, head of Wild Rift Esports said. “And we are making our own strategic bets and choices. We talked about building the first truly global mobile sport. That is not only in Asia, that’s not only in South America, but around the world.”
As Wild Rift Esports gets underway and heads towards its finals, the Wild Rift Icons Global Championship, later this summer, esports stakeholders and major brands alike will be watching viewership closely. If previous LoL success is any indication, Wild Rift should do well, and more brands will get on board. For Coke, there’s already strong synergy, as Interpret’s New Media Measure® shows that Wild Rift fans in the US purchase Coke on a weekly basis more than other top soda brands. Sprite, which is also owned by Coca-Cola, is a close second, followed by rival Pepsi in third place.