Industry awards afford recognition to those that may otherwise go unnoticed at the consumer level. Alongside opportunities for sponsors to position their brands alongside recognised excellence, industry awards create a celebration and spectacle for professionals to enjoy themselves and the work their peers produce.
The GameFace Awards is an esports B2B awards programme. Founded last year by Dan Grabiner and Jeremy King, the management team behind Festival of Media has been responsible for producing global advertising sector‘s leading award programmes over the last 15 years.
Esports Insider sat down with King to learn more about the group’s debut esports B2B awards programme, his experiences working in media outside of esports, and other plans for GameFace.
Esports Insider: Hey Jeremy, let’s get right to it. What is the purpose of The GameFace Awards and how did it come about?
Jeremy King: The main objective is to connect global brands to the esports sector. The concept was borne from the global media directors of Danone, Procter & Gamble P&G, Unilever and Adidas asking us if we could help them understand how to incorporate esports into their media and marketing strategies.
We have relationships with senior media and marketing figures from global brands and media agencies, and could easily provide a pathway for them to connect to esports organisations. One way to do this was to create a set of B2B awards, which an inclusive jury of global brands, media agencies and esports experts could debate, preside over and discuss the key work being produced in the sector.
This then allows brands and media agencies to gain an understanding of how esports organisations operate and how they could potentially partner with them. We also realised there wasn’t any award programme in the space solely recognising the B2B achievements of the esports industry.
ESI: Your other company, Festival of Media, specialises in B2B events and awards. Why did you decide to create a new company that solely focuses on esports, as opposed to adding a branch?
King: After speaking to a number of influential figures in the esports industry, it became clear the sector was keen to develop partnerships with global brands. We realised we could leverage the brand connections we have and help amplify the esports sector to the wider media and marketing hub and also to the wider business community.
What also became clear was that esports organisations need help on how to talk to brands and to understand the amazing inventory they have at their disposal. What was also apparent was that there wasn’t one source that allowed brands and agencies to understand the esports sector.
As a result, we decided to launch GameFace with awards, advisory and benchmarking verticals. We also discovered there wasn’t a set of awards that would allow them to celebrate their internal teams and help boost internal culture within their organisations.
ESI: With your experience in B2B events and media, what are the benefits of celebrating companies through an award structure?
King: A great question. In our experience, B2B awards programmes help businesses entering [esports] in a number of ways. It helps win business and gives them an edge when it comes to pitching for new clients.
Secondly, it helps develop a great internal culture whereby staff feel valued and proud of their achievements. Awards also provide an opportunity for entrants to benchmark themselves against peers and competitors.
ESI: An awards show is only as good as the judges that represent it. How crucial was it to find the right balance of experts for the GameFace Awards? And who are some of the names involved?
King: This was vital to the success of the award programme. We realised two things very early. Firstly, we needed to create an inclusive jury to ensure the conversations and debate over the work fully represents society today.
Secondly, we wanted to make sure our jury had strong opinions and included global brands and agencies. As a result, we have the global media directors of the two biggest spending brands in the world in Unilever and P&G, as well as Adidas and Virgin — alongside the likes of Jay Ann Lopez, founder of Black Girl Gamers, and professional esports player Jeannail ‘Cuddle_Core’ Carter. Our brand jury members have combined marketing spend of more than $5 billion.
ESI: Could you talk to us a little bit more about the judging process and how winners are selected?
King: We’re going to be implementing the same judging process we have used for the last 15 years in the Festival of Media programmes, which has won a couple of awards. The judges will discuss, debate and evaluate all of the work and then collectively decide on what deserves to be the gold standard.
It may be that the judges don’t believe there is a piece of work that reaches the gold standard but instead should be highly commended. It’s a tough and transparent process. Any judge involved in any of the work submitted will be recused from the judging process for that particular category to ensure the marking is completely objective.
ESI: It says on your website that it costs £250 to enter. What is the reasoning behind the price?
King: This is the business model we have used to great success for the Festival of Media over the last 15 years. The cost of £250 provides the entrants with the opportunity to showcase their businesses to global brands they would otherwise not be able to talk to.
It’s a cost-effective piece of marketing that also provides them with great content and amplification of what they are doing as businesses. We will also be providing feedback for those entrants who don’t win or are highly commended, which will include thoughts from the judges and our experience in what makes a winning entrant.
Effectively, the £250 fee facilitates an introduction to global brands and agencies keen to incorporate esports into their media and marketing plans. The opportunity is for partnerships worth £1m plus, so it’s a very small investment for great reward.
ESI: How much time was put into creating the categories and criteria for the awards?
King: We spent six months curating the categories to enable us to properly celebrate and make heroes out of the people and businesses driving the esports sector. We realised that no one else in the industry is purely focused on the B2B element, and it’s here where the key business deals can be facilitated.
We wanted to make sure we were different to all of the other award programmes in the sector, by being purely B2B and creating categories different to those already in the space. We’re all about giving the esports sector the opportunity to showcase itself to global brands, and benchmark itself against peers and competitors.
ESI: Finally, are there any other plans for GameFace besides the awards event?
King: Yes, there are. We have two more verticals to the business. Alongside the awards, we have a benchmarking business, which will allow brands and agencies to gain a greater understanding of esports organisations from the type of content they produce to the content and views they share on social media platforms.
The other vertical is advisory, where we can help esports organisations understand how to present and pitch their assets to brands — and equally, help brands connect with the right esports organisations.
The GameFace Awards features a total of 27 judges, including ESI’s Managing Director Sam Cooke, alongside Katrina Palanca, Director of Sponsorship Operations of Twitch, Allan Phang, Regional Head of Marketing & PR at EVOS Esports, Verta Maloney, Co-founder & Chief Community Officer at the*gameHERS and many others.
Last Friday, The GameFace Awards’ announced via social media an extension of its submission period to the 13th of May, giving two more weeks of opportunity to those interested in entering the esports B2B awards programme.
Learn more and submit entries at the GameFace website.