Must Read Brands Lean On New Attribution Tech – Just Don’t Call It MTA – As Budgets Split To New Channels AdExplainer: The Difference Between AVOD and FAST The Pivot To AVOD Is Happening And The Trade Desk Is Here For It How TikTok’s Ad Platform Stands After A Half Year Of Whirlwind Growth And New Products Why Alternate Currencies Probably Won’t Take Center Stage At This Year’s Upfronts AdExplainer: The Evolution Of Retail Media Facebook Advertisers Are Itching For Change As Bugs Infest Its Attribution Tech Programmatic Tech Is A Front For Psychological Warfare Amazon Sales And Profits Slip, But Advertising Powers Along » Esports Evangelist Imari Oliver On Why Gaming Needs To Be More Than Just ‘A Box That You Check’ by Allison Schiff // Friday, July 10th, 2020 – 11:19 am Share: Imari Oliver has treated his career like a video game. “The goal is to level up and keep reaching new levels,” says Imari, founder and CEO of Bond & Play, a consultancy and holding company for media, tech and entertainment IP with a focus on esports and video gaming. After realizing that banking wasn’t for him, Imari pivoted into what became a 20-plus-year career in Agency Land with stints at Havas, AKQA, McGarryBowen and Omnicom-owned sparks & honey. It was while at sparks & honey circa 2014 that Imari, a gamer since childhood – 1980s-era arcade game Defender was one of his first loves – realized that esports was a major opportunity for brands, but no one on Madison Avenue was paying much attention at the time. “People were playing games, but no one was talking about it,” he says. “It was like the biggest sport you never heard of.” Imari banged the drum about esports to his clients, which included AT&T and Pepsi, at every opportunity. Today, both brands are big supporters of esports, which plays a major role in their respective marketing strategies. Although esports audiences and concurrent interest from advertisers have grown rapidly for the past few years, the pandemic has seriously accelerated that momentum. People still crave the return of traditional live sports, but Imari considers esports “the heir apparent.” But he has some advice for brands: Don’t treat esports as a one-off. “Esports and video games shouldn’t be a box that you check,” he says. Also in this episode: What agencies need to consider as part of their diversity initiatives, why getting into gaming can’t just be about meeting KPIs, how we’re already living in the “multiverse” and we don’t even know it and that time Imari went to Samurai school in Japan. Subscribe to AdExchanger’s Social Distancing With Friends podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts. Enjoying this content? Sign up to be an AdExchanger Member today and get unlimited access to articles like this, plus proprietary data and research, conference discounts, on-demand access to event content, and more! Join Today! No related posts. 2 Comments Mitchell Davie July 10, 2020 Congratulations, my friend! Keep up the great work! Isis-Rae Goulbourne July 10, 2020 Awesome… Love hearing about your journey, Imari. Keep leveling up!