Beyond the Summit (BTS) is joining forces with Papa Johns to run a year-long campaign in the Super Smash Bros. community. Papa Johns is one of many major corporate brands that has begun engaging in the gaming community, targeting the Generation Z audience who consumes a large amount of gaming content.
"In the last few decades, we've seen gaming evolve from a niche hobby into a lifestyle for billions,” says David ‘LD’ Gorman, Managing Partner of BTS. “As a lifelong gamer and entrepreneur, I've had the opportunity to witness this shift firsthand, as BTS has grown from a two-man operation in 2013 into a global business with over 40 employees in 2022. Papa Johns recognizes this shift and chose to partner with a grassroots gaming agency uniquely positioned to help them connect with gamers in an authentic way.”
In 2013, BTS transformed from a passion project into a full-time business after meeting a $25,000 crowdfunding goal in under 24 hours, thanks to fervent support from the DOTA 2 community. Today, BTS has grown into a global business which has paid out millions of dollars in prizemoney, run events for over 20 titles, and currently employs nearly 50 full-time staff across its Los Angeles headquarters, European offices, and remote staff throughout the world.
To this day, BTS remains one of the last major production companies in the esports space which is privately owned, standing in stark contrast to major competitors who have collectively raised billions of dollars in venture capital in the arms race to create the best large-scale stadium productions. Still, even in the face of such intense and heavily-funded competition, BTS remains beloved across the global gaming audience for its memorable and authentic content that lives on in the hearts and minds of the viewers long after initial release.
"I was a fan long before continuing my career at Beyond the Summit. The team's authenticity in staying true and close to the community were what drew me and many other fans to BTS's channels,” says Michelle Cheng, VP of Sales and Marketing at BTS.
BTS has grown massively over the last decade; yet even as it celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, the team has managed to remain true to its original essence. By providing a place of comfort and ease for pro players and talent, BTS showcases the personalities behind the names and builds engagement on another level from traditional esports events. The BTS style is casual, fun, and intimate. That beloved style which started from early broadcasts in a small house continues to this day in a 20,000 sq ft, state-of-the-art professional studio in Los Angeles.
While most major corporate brands new to gaming simply choose the most popular esports titles, BTS and Papa Johns strategically chose the Super Smash Bros. community for their entry point.
Cheng shared her reasoning for pairing the world’s third-largest pizza delivery company with Super Smash Bros.: “Smash requires gamers to physically be together and compete side by side. There’s nothing more on-brand with the philosophy of Papa Johns, then Smashers sharing a box of hot, premium pizza after an intense gameplay. Pizza brings people together. Who turns down a sizzling slice of Papa Johns after a long day at a local tournament?”
Together with Papa Johns, BTS crafted a year-round campaign designed to connect the brand with the Super Smash Bros. community on a deeper level. Over the course of 2022, BTS & Papa Johns will work together with the community on a variety of levels, including:
- Building a pathway to pro for amateur Smash players, with top finishers earning the chance to level up their games by training with the pros at a future BTS Smash event
- Creating an in-depth episodic content series focused on local Smash communities, in hopes of bringing more spotlight and resources to underserved local scenes
- Designing and running a full social media campaign to connect with the incoming waves of Gen Z Smashers that will visit Papa Johns channels for the first time
- Concepting and producing relevant, appealing gaming commercials that speak to the Smash and gaming communities at large
- Unifying a total of twelve Smash Majors hosted by nine different tournament organizers across the USA under the Papa Johns banner
“While we live in a world in which people are increasingly connecting through digital channels, nothing can replace being together in-person,” said Anne Fischer, Papa John’s Chief Marketing Officer. “Eating pizza, like playing games, becomes even more enjoyable when that experience is shared with others, and we are looking forward to bringing gamers together at Smash Majors tournaments across the country.”
The recently concluded Genesis 8 in San Jose, California, was the first professional tournament sponsored by Papa Johns. Over 4500 fans attended the event live, with nearly 2.3 million unique viewers tuning in to livestreamed broadcasts over the course of the weekend. This first stop on Papa Johns’ 2022 campaign was a smashing success, with hundreds of millions of total impressions generated by hordes of passionate and engaged Smash fans across the United States. Papa Johns activated in various organic ways over the course of the weekend, including on-stream pizza deliveries, live branding at the venue, in-stream video ads, chatbot promotion, below-the-fold banner ads, talent shoutouts, and curated social posts.
Besides BTS’s upcoming events in California (Smash Summit 13, Ultimate Summit 5, Smash Summit 14, and Mainstage, Papa Johns will also be featured across the US at Low Tide City (TX), CEO (FL), Super Smash Con (VA), Shine (MA), Riptide (OH), The Big House (MI), and APEX (NJ).
"Fast forward from being a fangirl to leading the partnerships team at BTS,” says Cheng. “I feel incredibly privileged to be a part of Papa Johns’ 2022 gaming campaign. How rewarding it is to have the ability to give back to the community by bringing 8 other dedicated, grassroots Smash tournament organizers into this campaign. It's a powerful thing when these communities come together - that's the key ingredient to making great tournaments and great pizza.”**Photographer: Andrew Zhou @zhoucow