Jersey Mike’s Subs on Wednesday became the latest restaurant chain to get into the esports business with its sponsorship of the 2018 Summer Split of the North American League of Legends Championship Series.
The league is one of 14 professional League of Legends leagues around the world.
The sponsorship gives the 1,500-unit chain access to a group of customers, young teens, that are increasingly difficult to reach through traditional means.
“We’re looking at the customer of tomorrow,” Jersey Mike’s Chief Marketing Officer Rich Hope said in an interview. “We’re looking at customers who are 13 instead of 27. They’re hard to reach with traditional media. This is an opportunity to reach them in an environment they’re in.”
A growing number of restaurant chains are sponsoring esports leagues, in which players compete in video game competitions. Chipotle Mexican Grill, for instance, said last month that it would sponsor a team competing in the popular "Fortnite" video game.
The “Summer Split” will kick off on June 16. Jersey Mike’s will enable promotions in connection with the league. League of Legends players, for instance, will be able to redeem promo codes from the chain to get in-game items.
For Jersey Mike’s, esports sponsorships follows the chain’s sponsorship of more traditional sports, including baseball and football. “This was a natural extension of that,” Hope said.
“We’ve watched a few other brands test out the space,” he said. “We like to try and stay ahead of the trends.”
He said that the sponsorship will be easy to monitor and track so the chain can plan its offers accordingly. “We really see this as an opportunity,” Hope said.