Embracing Incongruity: Uncovering Unexpected Brand Potential on Twitch

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Chicago, Estados Unidos
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Bianca Borrero-Barreras
Senior Research Analyst Upshot

For fresh activation ideas, consider combining seemingly contradictory or unrelated elements that cater to a fuller version of your target consumer. Because Twitch is so unique and appeals to such a large, diverse audience, possibilities abound in the space between ostensibly incompatible concepts. Decades of gamer stereotypes have obscured the complexity and diversity of the gaming community, rendering it one-dimensional. Twitch, however, has been a ripe platform for gamers and even non-gamers to get quirky and comfortable in all of their nerdiness and presumably unrelated interests. Read on for tips on how you can develop clever, unexpected brand work on Twitch by merging all kinds of ideas.

Gamers are people, too.

What may seem irrelevant at first glance in the gaming sphere may be exactly what’s needed, so consider your target’s needs holistically. Don’t limit your activation’s scope with the cliche image of gamers crashing on couches, eating junk food. They’re more than just gamers--they’re humans, fully-fledged earthlings with a whole slew of interests and needs outside of gaming, whatever someone on their dedicated 249th RPG hour would have you believe. Gamers need snacks like zombies need brains, as Pringles reminded us, but food activations are a no-brainer. How about facilitating a moment of mindfulness to alleviate screen-staring induced headaches? Excedrin did just this with its “game over for headaches” activation. Teaming up with not only a top streamer, but also a clinical psychologist, Excedrin catered to the totality of the gamer. E.l.f. also launched their Twitch channel with a “Gameup” sweepstakes, combining gaming with makeup, because sometimes ya gotta look good while you game.

Gaming is for everyone.

Anyone can game; find ways to empower, embrace, and be accessible to all kinds of gamers with your activations. Prevailing stereotypical, gamer dude tropes...begone! This never aptly described the whole of the gamer community, anyway, and now there's a growing representation of the more diverse gamer community that’s always been there. Twitch is becoming a more inclusive space, with more women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ streamers working to curate safer spaces and communities for their viewers. For example, though tampons and Twitch may initially strike one as rather unrelated, Tampax collaborated with women streamers to host a women’s gaming fest. Focused on empowering women and girls who game, they also held a panel wherein they discussed what it’s like gaming in a conventionally male-dominated industry.

Gaming can be simple.

Simple, easy-to-play games are a catchy way to get folks to interact with your brand. Part of Twitch’s appeal, as well as what differentiates it from both other social and video platforms, is

the ease of it’s interactive streaming elements. After all, people aren’t just watching their favorite streamers, they’re playing games (the whole crux of it!) and getting in on the fun. Don’t let the popularity of intricately complex games with a myriad customization options and side quests fool you. Sometimes all you need is an uncomplicated, goofy game to captivate and delight. White Claw invited viewers to--cue Toy Story alien awe--play a virtual arcade claw. Winners of White Claw’s claw and its other virtual games received prizes--real-life, tangible prizes--via GoPuff. Charmin also developed its own magnum opus of games, “The Charmin Deuce Destroyer,” giving players the opportunity to, er, well, shoot poop with toilet paper. They partnered with popular streamers to demo the game and recite poems about #2 (really), and offered players digital coin prizes for high scores.

Surprise! Gaming isn’t the only option.

The most incongruent consideration of them all is that you don’t even have to do a gaming activation on Twitch. That’s right. If there’s a hobby you can think of, there’s likely a Twitch stream for it, which means myriads of brand activation opportunities! Again, Twitch is a unique interactive streaming platform, and consequently became an increasingly popular gathering space over the pandemic, as people sought out community around other interests as well. Twitch’s daily viewers grew by a million over 2020 (from 17 million to 27 million), and not all of them were watching video games. Twitch, suffused with an ethos of collaborative community, appeals to users beyond the gaming sphere. Now, people know it’s a place to which they can turn for a bevy of other content, too. There’s truly something for everyone, from helping facilitate basic human functions--cooking tutorials and sleep-inducing (on purpose!) streams--to niche Lego building, mechanical design, and animated video making!

Onward! Embrace the incongruity! Don’t shy away from what seems incompatible about your target on Twitch, and instead start playing around with juxtapositions and concept combinations. And, hey, have a little fun! That is, after all, what it’s all about.