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Cannes has a shiny new category – Gaming

Cathy MacDonald, Director of Operations for LetsPlay.Live, the APAC region’s largest gaming and esports media production network, shares how New Zealand brands can play, and win in the new Cannes gaming category.


The winners of the inaugural Entertainment Lions for Gaming will be announced for the first time this week and all eyes are on this brand new category, reflecting the rapid rise of gaming and esports and their role at the intersection of music, entertainment, and popular culture. 

Myriad global brands are pouring their capital on the fire from Greenpeace to  Spotify, Adidas to HBO, after recognising that the global gaming and esports market – expected to grow from US$2.6 billion to US$7.725 billion over the next ten years – is key to connecting with current and emerging demographics.  

OK, but what’s the situation with gaming in NZ?
Here’s the part where you pack away those preconceptions. According to the most recent Where are the Audiences Report, 73 percent of all New Zealanders play video games on any given day, with online gaming attracting a larger audience than radio, podcasts, TVOD or music in the 15-24 age group. It didn’t measure spectatorship of online gaming (an important distinction), but according to Newzoo, gaming’s live-stream audience will hit 1 billion in 2024 rising to 1.4 billion by 2025. 34 is the average age of a Kiwi gamer, with 48 percent of the NZ gaming population identifying as female, and 78 percent reporting gaming improves their mental health. There’s been some excellent creative work done locally in recent years, with coming awards seasons sure to throw up more instant classics. 

So you want a crack at the Entertainment Lions for gaming in 2024

Despite these eye opening numbers gaming is still new territory for many of us, so here’s a few things to remember when integrating a gaming element into your campaign. 

  • Be intentional about the kind of gamer you’re targeting. People Who Game could include your Mum, your kid and your best mate. Gamers are a different beasts entirely; passionate enthusiasts who see themselves as members of a counter-culture with a language of its own. Tread carefully. 
  • Lead with authenticity and a sense fun. Low-fi is better than fine, it’s preferable – and handy for those 2023 budgets. 
  • Leverage the key elements of gaming to your advantage. It’s a great conversation starter. Use it as a tool to get people talking, to leverage existing rivalries, or reach across the generations.
  • On that note, nostalgia is your friend. Games are shared cultural experiences, and incredibly powerful at breaking down barriers. 
  • Never forget the importance of competitive integrity. Like any sport, elite players deliver bigger audiences. 
  • Passionate fans are thirsty for backstories and content. Feed the beast! 

By far the most exciting thing about Cannes Lions’ newest category is seeing the boundaries of frontline creative technology pushed to its limit, creating a deeper and more integrated experience particularly in the activism and DE&I sphere. 

So if you’re looking to develop a strategy remember, lead with authenticity and a sense of fun. If you go in-game, the integration should improve the gaming experience, otherwise you’re just getting the way of a good time. And choose good partners (I would say that, wouldn’t I) who know what they’re doing, creators and platforms that are reliable and widely respected in their communities. Now you’re ready to go forth and farm some noobs. 

About Author

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Cathy MacDonald is the Director of Operations for LetsPlay.Live, the APAC region’s largest gaming and esports media production network.

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