Home Marketers Ally Tees Up A Fortnite Golf Experience To Promote Its Sponsorship Of Women’s Sports

Ally Tees Up A Fortnite Golf Experience To Promote Its Sponsorship Of Women’s Sports

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Ally Financial and SuperAwesome built the Tee Time Speedrun experience inside Fortnite to promote Ally's sponsorship of the USGA and LGPA.

Traditional sports sponsorships only go so far in today’s fragmented media landscape.

Marketers need to engage sports fans outside the games themselves, and they need to look beyond TV to court the youths, who have never been tethered to cable.

That’s where video games come in. Since 2023, Ally Financial has partnered with youth marketing platform SuperAwesome to build interactive experiences inside the hit online megagame Fortnite. Using Fortnite’s open-source creator platform, Ally and SuperAwesome built a virtual location dubbed the Ally Arena, which hosts games inspired by Ally’s sports partnerships.

Ally’s newest Fortnite game, “Tee Time Speedrun,” launched last week to promote its sponsorship of the United States Golf Association (USGA). Ally also contributed to the $12 million in prizes awarded at this year’s LPGA US Women’s Open, the largest ever purse for a women’s golf tournament.

The Women’s Open prize and the Fortnite game tie into Ally’s 50/50 Pledge, an initiative the company introduced in 2022 with the goal of reaching gender parity in its sports sponsorships.

“To reach communities, you have to go where they are,” said Beth Woodruff, Ally’s senior director of brand strategy, integrations, gaming and innovation. “We get more eyeballs and longer engagement times through our gaming portfolios than a lot of other things we’ve tested.”

Building brand love

Video games like Fortnite have come to fill a similar role for Gen Z as golf fills for older generations, said Nicholas Walters, president and chief strategy officer at SuperAwesome.

“It’s just like my dad would have been out there playing golf and hanging out with friends –  there’s a bit of playing the game, but there’s also a social experience around it,” he said.

With Fortnite activations, Ally is looking to build brand recognition by getting in front of the platform’s massive audience – about 30 million players a day, according to ActivePlayer.io. In comparison, even The Masters, a men’s tournament in April that’s the highest-rated golf broadcast of the year, had a peak viewership of 12.5 million.

The ultimate goal is to get Ally’s name out in front of consumers aged 18-30 in ways that feel connected to what matters to them, Woodruff said. And Fortnite skews older than one might expect, she said. Almost two out of three Fortnite players are aged 18-24, and 23% are aged 24-43, according to Verto Analytics.

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“We’re testing ways to start building brand awareness and brand love earlier, so that three, five or seven years in the future, when they’re looking for a financial partner, they’ll think, ‘This is a brand that gets me,’” she said.

Off-site influence

To make sure players on Fortnite are aware of and engaging with Ally’s Fortnite activations, the brand implemented a strategy centered on social media outreach and influencer marketing.

For example, “Tee Time Speedrun” went live last week and has a significant off-site marketing push. In the game, players try to navigate a golf ball through a series of obstacle courses as quickly as possible, which is a more brand-safe experience than Fortnite’s typical shooter-style gameplay, Woodruff said.

In Tee Time Speedrun, players players try to navigate a golf ball through a series of obstacle courses as quickly as possible.

This past weekend, Ally organized a speedrun tournament in which players competed for the quickest times. Ally promoted the tournament through sponsored influencer content on Twitch and on Ally’s channel on the messaging app Discord.

Top-ranked participants in the speedrun tournament shared a $25K prize pool, with the winner getting a trip to attend the USGA’s 2025 US Open.

SuperAwesome connected Ally with a stable of paid influencers who represented Ally’s target audience, such as Sommerset (1.8 million Twitch followers) and Aussie Antics (1.3 million Twitch followers). These influencers participated in and hyped up the tournament in advance, driving additional organic engagement from other players and streamers.

“Discovery on Fortnite is like discovery on YouTube,” said SuperAwesome’s Walters. Gaining traction among influencers can drive a Fortnite experience up the rankings in the platform’s discovery algorithm, which brings even more players to the experience. But that tactic only works if the gameplay resonates, Walters added – and speedrun-style games are massively popular with Fortnite’s audience.

Ally also promoted the tournament and the experience with demographically and contextually targeted ad placements on Reddit, TikTok, Instagram and Facebook.

More equitable marketing

Ally prioritized marketing “Tee Time Speedrun” to women who play Fortnite as part of its goal of raising awareness for women’s sports and esports.

Nearly 30% of Fortnite’s player base is female, according to Verto Analytics. To hone in on this audience, Ally and SuperAwesome made sure to include as many female Fortnite influencers in their marketing efforts as possible. That way, Ally isn’t only promoting a professional women’s sports league but putting its ad dollars directly into the pockets of female creators.

Ally expects that, by the end of 2024, 45% of its sports sponsorship budget will be dedicated to promoting women’s leagues, with 55% going to promoting men’s leagues.

“The national tone around women’s sports is changing thanks to things like the Caitlin Clark effect, and we’ve got to keep the momentum going,” Ally’s Woodruff said. “The more opportunities we have to give visibility to female esports players and creators, the better things will continue to get.”

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