Earlier this year, pornographic website YouPorn announced plans to sponsor a professional eSports team. Now, marketing director Braden Burns tells Polygon that the video-sharing site is close to sealing the deal with a team, with plans to go public very soon.
YouPorn made waves in the eSports community in July after putting out feelers to find Dota 2, League of Legends or Hearthstone eSports teams interested in sponsorship from the free, video-sharing porn site.
"Do we have any competitive LoL, DOTA2, or HeartStone [sic] players following us? What do you think about YouPorn sponsoring a team?" the official YouPorn Twitter account (NSFW) tweeted.
YouPorn received hundreds of submissions from the eSports community
The staff of YouPorn are avid gamers, Burns tells us, "many of whom follow eSports closely, so games are a common topic of conversation around the office. One day one of them put forward the idea of sponsoring an eSports team and the idea just kind of took on a life of its own from there."
Burns tells us the company received "hundreds" of submissions online before entering into early negotiations. These, however, would later all fall through, he tells us.
"We entered into negotiations with a few teams, almost had a contract signed and sealed, but sadly it didn't work out in the end," says Burns. "We didn't let that hold us back though and we continued our search. I am happy to say we are once again on the cusp of a done deal and we're hoping to go public very soon."
As an established pornographic website, it can be difficult to create partnerships of this kind, Burns explains. The company's stature in the pornographic community can be at odds with the mainstream. It's with this in mind that YouPorn is working on "creative" marketing efforts that have the potential to side-step the inherent taboo of pornography.
Earlier designs for a potential "Team YP" shirt branded with YouPorn's "YP" logo have since been re-worked "to better fit our new potential players' style," Burns continues; although, the new uniform will still retain much of the original design. You can see the original design above.
"We'll still be taking the approach of branding any players or teams we sponsor as members of Team YP," Burns tells us. "We're quite cognisant of the varied audiences that not only play these games, but watch streams, youtube videos, and the eSports matches, so we've tailored the brand in a way we feel is appropriate to the space."
How a porn company can break into the mainstream
While new to the eSports scene, the company plans to approach things "like any other sponsor," we're told. YouPorn hopes to offer help to its pro-gaming teams in the form of finance, web development services, graphic design, marketing, and so on, says Burns.
"We've got a lot of resources at our disposal," he continues. "As far as what we can offer that other sponsors can't goes, is exposure. Any player or team that signs with us will not only garner a lot of media attention, but will also be actively promoted to a captive audience of 20 million visitors every day.
"There is no question about it. Being an established adult brand, the stigma surrounding our industry is something we have to deal with all the time. It's nothing new to us, and we've never let it stop us before. If anything, it forces us to explore and be more creative in our marketing efforts than any mainstream companies."