How DreamHack Dallas brought its sponsorship business to new heights in 2024

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By Alexander Lee  •  June 10, 2024  •

The header image shows an illustration of people social distancing at a football game.

Ivy Liu

On June 2, the long-running gaming convention DreamHack held its largest-ever North American event in Dallas, Texas. With 50,000 attendees crossing the threshold during the three-day festival, the success of the event showed that live attendance is still on the rise in gaming and esports.

The record attendance of DreamHack Dallas 2024 was reflected in an expansion of the event’s sponsorship business this year. Advertisers such as Porsche, Logitech and Intel were heavily featured on the show floor and alongside the festival’s packed schedule of esports tournaments.

Throughout the weekend, brands’ booths and activations drew ample foot traffic, with many attendees treating them no differently than the rest of DreamHack’s non-sponsored content. (Editor’s Note: DreamHack owner ESL/FACEIT Group paid for this reporter’s travel and lodging at DreamHack Dallas.)

“Everything correlates with the growth of the content and the attendance,” said Shahin Zarrabi, vp of festivals for DreamHack owner ESL/FACEIT Group. “You’ll see on the show floor that we’ll have more partners than ever, both in terms of sponsors of the festival itself, but also exhibiting on the floor.”

To make the opportunity more enticing for advertisers, DreamHack created a spread of new tools and features designed to tie sponsors and their content into the broader gaming convention. This included a “quest” system that encouraged attendees to scan QR codes at sponsors’ booths in exchange for “experience points” that could be exchanged for prizes at the end of each day.

“With quests, we’re trying to provide even more data on how many people came in, did the quest in your booth, engaged with you and hopefully visualize the value that they get out of being at the festival even more,” Zarrabi said. 

DreamHack encouraged its advertisers to make their presences at the convention into immersive experiences that might be more meaningful to festival-goers than a typical trade show booths — and brands took note of the advice. 

Examples of brands that integrated themselves more deeply into the gaming culture of DreamHack Dallas included chair manufacturer Anthros, whose booth took visitors through a “taste test” of popular gaming chair brands, and logistics company DHL, which had a job recruitment table that used visitors’ gaming preferences to match them with the right role.

“A lot of people know DHL; you don’t have to explain it to them so much, because it’s part of the daily business or daily life of so many careers,” said DHL Group senior sponsor manager Dirk Behrend-Uçak. “But it’s always important to tell stories around your brand. This is why we decided that esports fits so well, because you really can create a lot of stories around the brand, and in the best case, combine it with the game itself.”

Directly sponsoring DreamHack is not the only way brands were able to take advantage of the Dallas festival’s record-high attendance. Several esports organizations, such as FlyQuest, also had booths, giving their own sponsors an opportunity to reach gamers on the show floor. This year, FlyQuest used its booth to showcase its partnership with Logitech via a Nerf blaster shooting gallery emblazoned with brand logos and imagery. 

“It’s a unique partnership, where we go to their office and help design products,” said FlyQuest chief culture officer Stephanie Harvey. “So we have a close partnership with them, and the booth here is Logitech-powered.”

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