Creative Brief

The Ask

How can Zippo become a part of the rapidly growing e-sports world?

The Situation

Zippo is a non-endemic brand and gamers are wary of attempts to take advantage of their growing market for the wrong reasons.

The Insight

Fires (digital and IRL) represent moments of pause.

The Strategy

Make Zippo hand warmers synonymous with pausing to prepare for battle.

The Situation

While e-sports viewership, participation and sponsorship is growing, there's more to this world than the pros: not all gamers are e-sports spectators and not all gaming goes on in a stadium. We want to reach amateur gamers as well.

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Reframing the Ask

How can Zippo become a part of the rapidly growing e-sports world?

How can Zippo become a part of the rapidly growing gaming world?

This is Not a Subculture

Big Money

  • Fortnite made around $2.4 billion in 2018 

  • One of the most popular streamers makes more than $500,000 a month

  • Amazon purchased Twitch for $970 million in 2014

Big Audience

  • 58% of Millennials have played video games in the past 30 days

  • Top streamer Ninja has 17 million Twitch subscribers and over 150 million views per month

  • Movies like Ready Player One bring gaming to the big screen

Big Names

  • Marshmello held a virtual concert in Fortnite

  • ESPN now has ESPN Esports 

  • Geico is an Esports team sponsor

  • Google just announced its cloud-based gaming platform Stadia

Modern Gamers

While gamers are 75% male, affluent, and fall in the 16-35 age group, they are more diverse than a stereotype. 



  • See gaming as a social activity: gaming is a community sport

  • Casual gamers are the biggest bucket - they spend less time on a game, but are interested in learning more about how they are made (the behind the scenes)

  • They don’t all watch competitions, but more than half like to watch other people play

Thoughts on Gaming

  • 9/10 esports watchers watch at least one traditional sport

  • Music, online video and movies are important to this group. They are usually watchers and not readers.

  • Most likely to recommend a product if it is high quality, directly related to their interests and if they love the brand

  • Wary of non-endemic brands inserting themselves into gaming culture


The Challenge

Everyone wants in on the gaming industry, but Zippo needs to authentically reach gamers if it doesn't want to be perceived as an imposter.

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Playing Into Our Strengths

Featured in over 2000 movies, TV shows, and music videos, Zippo has become synonymous with fire.

If we want Zippo to become a part of the rapidly growing gaming world, Zippo “must provide engaging content with a sense of exclusivity, while fostering an image which applies itself to the community.” (Global Web Index)

Fire IRL

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We sit around bonfires with some drinks, foods, and good music. It’s a moment of relaxation and respite.

Special Ocassions

We light candles on top of birthday cakes. We also light candles to set the mood for a romantic evening, date, or anniversary.  And BBQs at gatherings.


Smoking may be in decline but for many it still acts as a form of a break.


Lastly, we’ve seen all of those instagrammable bath moments. People use candles to set a relaxing environment to unwind.

Fire in Gaming

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Campfires in Fortnite help to regain some health. You have to stand there for 10 seconds to regain it and you don’t always restore all of it. You have to do more with less from then on.


Fire can often act as Save/Respawn locations, like in Horizon. Gamers know that when saving a game, it means they are about to battle a boss, get ambushed by zombies, or something of like.

Lighting the Way​

Fire is also important in games to help light the way, like in Skyrim or The Last of Us. All gamers know that something lurks in the darkness.


Games like Tomb Raider, League of Legends, and World of Warcraft use fire as weaponry. 

What authentic problem can Zippo solve for? 

It gets cold on those e-sport stages with A/C pumping to keep the machines cool. And both on stage and at home, anxiety/adrenaline makes matters worse.

“A gamer with warm hands can react 21% faster than one who has cold hands.”

Zippo hand warmers can keep gamers at peak performance by combatting cold hands. 

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Make Zippo hand warmers synonymous with pausing to prepare for battle.


Fires in gaming and real life represent moments of pause.

Thought Starters


Gamers are more likely to recommend a brand if it enhances their online reputation -GWI

Zippo Fire Play Award

  • Annual award given to the player with the most impressive reaction time in a play

  • Nominations made using #zippofireplay all year, selected finalists are presented for public voting on Twitch

  • Virtual award ceremony if the game format allows, or partnership to present at the Esports Awards

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Gamers over index as receptive to influencer marketing



Crossover Influencer Partnerhsips

Using influencers who are easily recognizable and relatable will help to convince gamers about Zippo’s place in the gaming world. Since gamers are dynamic, influencers with a presence outside the gaming world will be especially effective and can reach them outside the limits of gaming.

Example: Asa Butterfield

Recently added to Panda Global’s Smash Bros team, he is an actor in Sex Education on Netflix, Ender’s Game, Hugo, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. He crosses boundaries between “traditional” celebrities and gaming celebrities.

Why This Works


E-sport tournament viewing overlap is slim, and would require Zippo to speak differently to gamers of each different game. This gives us a way to reach everyone.



We are solving a real problem, cold hands, by associating it with a gaming truth, the mental pause all gamers take when we see digital fires.



It uses a truth about Zippo but applies it to the gaming community in a way that seems authentic and a natural progression for the brand. This allows gamers to see them not as outsiders, but late comers.

The Team

Curtis Kingrea, Strategist


As a non-gamer it was so interesting to dive into this world and learn more about the competitions, professional and not, that have become so popular. It will be interesting to see how gaming influencers and athletes become more mainstream celebrities.

My Role

Industry and cultural research, strategy, creative concepts