Insight, Paid Media

Luxury Brands & Video Games – the unlikely new comrades in the world of premium advertising

COVID-19 brought about an explosion in video gaming hours, whilst in turn forcing luxury brands to embrace digital in a way many haven’t before.  Are these colliding world’s a match made in heaven?


A growing phenomenon across the world, video games have become a staple of modern life for many. The $120bn industry has been evolving from strength to strength, with COVID-19 further impacting this.  Verizon recently reporting that video game playing hours up 75%  since the pandemic first began. With video games taking a position of wider appeal among the world, Luxury brands (notably luxury fashion brands) are increasingly capitalising on the opportunity, with notable collaborations like Louis Vuitton’s bespoke outfit for Qiyana from League of Legends (branded the 3rd largest ‘sport’ in China), Burberry’s own developed game B Bounce or even Gucci’s limited edition watches in collaboration with eSports behemoth Fnatic.

Louis Vuitton Gaming
Louis Vuitton League of Legends

We live in an ‘attention economy’. With the measurement tools now available, brands aren’t just competing for how many people see their ad, but how deep the engagement of that view really is. PR (digital or otherwise) is no longer just eyeballs; its connection. As a digital agency for luxury brands we often talk about the importance of the ‘holy trinity’ of advertising; combining a quality audience (who will see it), with engaging messaging (how you say something) in the right context (where/when the message is said) in achieving the best from your marketing efforts. 

If used correctly, gaming can offer all of these in abundance – offering luxury brands an exciting new space to work in. 

A highly engaged audience

Due to the interactive nature of gaming, the audience is highly engaged with the content they are consuming. This means that, unlike in other mediums such as TV or Audio (which are often consumed whilst performing other tasks), gaming is somewhat unique in the level of attention a user will give. Across the globe, the average weekly hours for video gaming is 7.11, with an average of 53% users admitting to missing sleep due to being engrossed in a game. In an age where consumer attention is a quantifiable, and valuable commodity for building brand awareness, the importance of this cannot be overstated.

A second important consideration here is around the wealth threshold associated with gaming, in being a prime spot for luxury brands.  Gaming can take many forms, be that across mobile devices, on PC or on a console.  Particularly with console gaming, due to the expensive nature of acquiring the technology (Console, VR Headsets, Games, Controllers, In-Game Purchases etc), the wealth profile of the average consumer is notably high, with 26% of affluent Americans partaking in video gaming

The opportunity for creativity

Luxury fashion and video gaming are two industries synonymous with collaborating with other brands to boost their marketing efforts. Luxury fashion has led this space with notable collaborations with Streetwear brands (e.g. Supreme X Louis Vuitton) and Homeware brands (e.g. Virgil Abloh X Ikea). However this has been equally prominent in the world of video gaming with other close links to Streetwear like the recent EA Sports X Nike collaboration on the AF2 trainer, similarly with others notable collaborations in TV series, for example, Minecraft appearance in smash hits like Rick and Morty and South Park, Therefore with both of these industries always pushing the boat out in terms of brand advancement, a growing alliance seems a next obvious step. 

Sims x Moschino

In regards to advertising, this similar logic applies. Gaming is a medium built for creativity, with developers creating vast, intricate worlds for gamers to lose themselves in. For an advertiser, this means finding a way to integrate themselves creatively into these worlds, providing a huge opportunity to stand out to this engaged audience. For PC and Console gaming, this is often in the form of either custom-built adverts that integrate with the world you’re playing, whether it’s a branded billboard Marcus Holloway walks past in Watch Dogs 2, or a message behind the goal at the Etihad Stadium on Fifa, creativity is key. This also applies somewhat to mobile gaming, however, mobile gaming publishers have typically relied on more traditional formats like pre-roll video and interstitials, due to the comparative simplicity of their games. 

Adding an additional trackable environment to the marketing plan

We have established video games have a premium, engaged and growing audience, offering an environment that encourages innovation within marketing. However as a new medium, it is important to figure out how it can be integrated into the wider media plan. As a digital medium, video game advertising is entirely trackable and can be operated in a similar manner to which you buy other media like video, display, digital out of home and digital audio – either direct to the publisher or programmatically via a Demand Side Platform (DSP). 

Regardless of the buying method, both offer the opportunity to plug into an ad-server & analytics platform – allowing the medium to be tracked alongside other formats that you are buying. This also allows for the opportunity for ROI and Attribution modelling, and understanding if this new medium offers the same return on investment as other channels. When activated programmatically, the value of the impression can be further understood, allowing for real-time optimisation of both targeting and creative, in many of the same ways a DSP can offer for other formats. 

Bringing it all together 

It is worth noting, that whilst engaging, this form of marketing is largely a brand awareness and engagement activity driver. Such activity could increase audience sentiment and drive a digital buzz for your brand, but this would likely support conversion rather than drive it. Luxury brands, particularly in the wake of COVID, have been forced to find new ways to embrace digital, and premiumise the space to maintain brand equity in an ever-advancing digital world. Therefore it seems that whilst video games maintain and grow their highly engaged audiences, this trend of luxury brands and video gaming looks set to continue.  

VERB brands is the leading digital agency for premium and luxury brands. We offer services in Programmatic & Digital Media, Paid Media, SEO, Social Media, UX & Web Design, and Chinese Market Localisation. If you’d like to speak to a digital expert about your brand, please do get in touch on hello@verbbrands.com.