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A new frontier: alcohol sponsorship activation through esports

Sarah J. Kelly (UQ Business School, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)
Dymphna Van der Leij (School of Psychology, University of Qld, Brisbane, Australia)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Article publication date: 25 December 2020

Issue publication date: 12 May 2021




The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of alcohol sponsorship-linked advertising through esports upon young gaming audiences and how gaming behaviours affect advertising response.


A cross-sectional survey study was employed to examine the prevalence and nature of alcohol advertising in esports, and the impact of esports participation upon young audiences' consumption and preferences concerning alcohol. Survey data were collected from 976 young Australian gamers aged between 16 and 34 years (58.9% male) using online questionnaires.


Results revealed a vulnerability to alcohol sponsorship and advertising among 25 to 34-year-old and heavy gamer cohorts. As predicted, heavy gamers were more receptive to alcohol advertising in terms of awareness, preference and consumption while gaming than casual gamers.

Practical implications

This research advances theories of consumer behaviour and advertising exposure situated in a new landscape of converging virtual and real experiential marketing. It also provides much-needed evidence to guide marketing strategy to the next-generation audiences and regulation of new and burgeoning digital platforms. Our research also highlights a need for policy to address the burgeoning, largely unregulated nature of online gaming.


This research provides the first empirical evidence of the impacts of alcohol-linked sponsorship in esports upon young playing and streaming audiences. It informs marketing strategy and policy in relation to the rapidly growing, potentially vulnerable online competitive gaming audience.



The authors acknowledge funding support from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education.This manuscript has not been published elsewhere and has not been submitted simultaneously for publication elsewhere. The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship and/or publication of this paper.


Kelly, S.J. and Van der Leij, D. (2021), "A new frontier: alcohol sponsorship activation through esports", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 39 No. 4, pp. 533-558.



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