With their creative inluencer marketing campaigns, INSTINCT3 and Eintracht Spandau (as subsidaries of I3 Holding GmbH) successfully promote Berlin district Spandau as the place to be when it comes to esports and gaming-related marketing. With Co-CEO Johannes Gorzel, we talked about Spandau and the vast possibilities of esports as a driving force for city development.
There’s Berlin and there’s Spandau. What many Berliners see as “jwd” (very far away), you see as an asset. Please tell us more about your vision for the district and your approach to city marketing.
While a lot of Berliners still consider Spandau the metropole’s retirement home, it is actually becoming one of Europe’s most important hubs for the esports as well as the gaming influencer industry.
With our company group consisting of I3 Holding GmbH (parent company), INSTINCT3 GmbH (artist & creative marketing agency) and Eintracht Spandau GmbH (esports club), we are currently boasting over 70 people working from Spandau. In this group of people, the average age revolves around 27, and therefore our experience of Spandau is of course vastly more differentiated than the stereotype. While some of us still have slight issues with the Spandau image, most employees are living in Spandau and enjoying the more comfortable lifestyle the district has to offer. We like it here.
However, we love to play with the stereotypes and stories Spandau has to offer. Being a district from the outskirts, having this rebellious sense of constantly defying the connection to Berlin and utilizing the actual district history that ties into this regional culture – all of that is amazing material if you want to shape a club brand rooted in its region. And all of that inspired our Eintracht Spandau slogan “Hier is real”.
If you have not read up on it yet, here you have three key facts, everybody should know about Spandau:
- Received city rights before Berlin did
- Built its townhall facing away from Berlin
- Rejected to be submissive to Berlin during the playful but also meaningful “Knüppelkrieg”
So, where do we go from here? To sum up our ambitions: In 20 years, Eintracht should have the kind of influence on Spandau that one usually associates more with big Bundesliga soccer clubs in their respective regions. We could operate a mass sports department in digital and analog sports, with which we could shape youth recreation. We could run community centers such as gastronomies and event venues, which would bring more traffic to the local economy. And we could inspire a lot of people for our club, its values and its inclusive community, who today don't even know what esports actually is.
It is our ambition that Spandau will be the first region to achieve such an inclusive local esports culture and ecosystem. Therefore, we want Spandau to become an example not just for Berlin, but for the rest of Europe.
With Eintracht Spandau you created a successful and popular esports team over night – or so it seems. What considerations flowed into the creation of Eintracht Spandau, where does the club stand at the moment and what lies in the future?
From the beginning, Eintracht Spandau was a story-telling product that works through emotions and conscientious branding, not just the athletes. Eintracht Spandau combines the ambitions of sporting success within a framework of editorial content and entertainment heavily influenced by our roots in influencer and content marketing.
A central thesis in the conception of Eintracht Spandau has always been that the tension between the traditional, haptic, classic sport, loved by the sports romantics from the 1990s, and the digital, the new and progressive, globalized, and anglicized esports environment should be exploited. This field of tension, we wanted to transfer to all levels of communication.
This dissent is also symbolically reflected in the contrast between Berlin and Spandau. The history of Spandau as a district embodies the spirit that we also want to radiate with Eintracht Spandau. It can for example be seen in our rivalry with the Berlin esports team “Berlin International Gaming” – a demarcation of the Spandau mentality and culture, which is seen as rebellious and idiosyncratic, in contrast to the values and standing of the big and international city of Berlin.
We hoped that Eintracht will break even this year, but we conservatively planned with a slight loss in the first year. The end result will most likely lie between these two scenarios; therefore we are standing on solid grounds. The second year of the club will see us introduce a new dimension: Entering the football field. But let’s talk about that when the time comes.
What values drive your company?
Our companies are meant to have individual identities and therefore cultures and values. However, with INSTINCT3 and Eintracht Spandau, there is a large common ground.
Both companies highly value authenticity. We produce authentic content with authentic creators who don't pretend to be others and who carry their convictions and positions to the outside world - always in harmony with their own personality. The same applies to our team, in which everyone can live out their true self.
All of us approach work with the goal of self-realization. Projects, campaigns, and content that are created at INSTINCT3 and Eintracht Spandau should fill all collaborators with pride and correspond to their desire of excellency and ethics.
Our team also is a collection of reliable and genuine individuals, internally united by common passions and sympathy. At the same time, our ambition is to also enable friendships externally in the market and to be considered enablers and partners. Excellent collaboration requires respect, and we see tolerance as the basis for this. Nobody should be afraid of expressing their opinion honestly.
We approach courageous projects with even more courageous employees. They enjoy a high degree of personal responsibility and can act very independently in many matters.
What potential do you see in esports for Spandau, engagement of the youth and for society as a whole? Is Spandau (and Berlin) ready to compete on an international level? If not, what needs to change?
We are convinced that Eintracht Spandau can change society's view of esports - and esports' view of society. Especially in the following fields:
- Creating environments for young people in the district in which they are accompanied pedagogically, so that aspects such as social togetherness, sporting activities, media competence and addiction prevention are promoted.
- Creation of a club-culture that connects people in the district and beyond, creating tolerance and empathy between, for example, different generations, origins, or gender identities.
- Building an ecosystem of local businesses that work together to amplify pull factors for the district created by esports and amplify each other, both analog and digital.
And in these regards, we want Spandau to compete on an international level. We are building an esports brand that will be able to mobilize both digital and local audiences and is meant to use that influence to create a positive impact on society. With this plan, we want to become thought leaders for the entire European esports ecosystem.
During our current stage of trying to make the esports club business sustainable, the economic success of our project will consume most of our energy. However, we are already acting as a facilitator between stakeholders within our district such as traditional sports clubs, economic networks and local politics on one hand, and stakeholders from all over Germany, who are experienced in shaping sustainable esports initiatives in regions such as NRW and SWH on the other hand.
Oh, and in terms of esports tournaments, we have our eyes set on a clear target: Winning the EU Masters and therefore beating the competition from all other European national leagues. Within esports, we are not interested in entering any currently existing franchise leagues, since we believe they are not compatible to our cultural and economic ambitions and values.
What distinguishes your marketing campaigns from those of other companies? Please, give us an example of a successful influencer campaign that you run.
With content creators at our core and gaming close to our heart, it is our ambition to facilitate collaborations between our industry allies and create content to be proud of.
INSTINCT3 exclusively offers custom campaigns. It is our aspiration to live up to the goals and interests of the client, without compromising the individual strengths and wishes of the influencer. This is the only way to produce successful campaigns for which the influencer whole-heartedly takes ownership.
A great example for that approach is our work on “Sparkassen-Hänno”. In collaboration with our dear friends over at Jung von Matt SPORTS, one of Europe’s most renown brand agencies, we have created the very first German esports-focused campaign that has won silver at the Effie Awards.
Cooperating on eye-level, we have aligned the strategical interests of the client, which Jung von Matt SPORT has built their integrated campaign strategy around, with the influencer’s goals in terms of authenticity. With our approach to partnerships and our understanding of the gaming community, we created record-breaking content, highly resonating with the audience as well as with other influencers reacting to it.
What is your take on the talent landscape in Spandau and Berlin?
With over 70 employees, we are running Germany’s most influential esports team, representing Germany’s most popular gaming content creators, concepting, and executing some of the most ground-breaking creative campaigns in the German gaming industry and diversifying these assets and skills into more and more sustainable business models – all from Spandau.
And while we do that, our neighbors over at Freaks 4U Gaming, who also chose Spandau for their headquarters and count close to 300 employees, are producing some of the world’s most elaborate esports broadcasts and tournaments.
This is already an amazing infrastructure, and it of course attracts more and more stakeholders from the industry, e.g. gaming creators and young people identifying with the content we produce.
We see more and more companies from the industry considering a move to Spandau. And we are also aware that currently, Spandau is Berlin’s most successful district in attracting young residents. We like to think that this is partially on us.
Aside from the cultural hype we have created around Spandau, we also see the environment transforming. We see start-up spaces being planned, e.g. next to the Stresowpark as well as across from the train station. We also see long-established businesses organized in the Wirtschaftshof Spandau welcoming innovative projects like ours with open arms. And we see a local government with sympathy for our endeavour of promoting Spandau.
In my opinion, these are great indicators, that – with the necessary support from government entities and existing stakeholders – Spandau could become THE breeding ground for Germany’s currently developing creative scene around gaming marketing and esports.
In your opinion, what do influencers need to bring to the table to be successful?
As an agency founded by one of Germany’s most determined influencers, it has always been part of the INSTINCT3 identity to pursue integrity and sincerity above all else. And while we celebrate ingenuity, ambition and friendship, we are strong-willed when it comes to protecting our belief in decency, morals and character. In our opinion, the understanding and living of these morals and values is what should make good and successful influencers.
In the past, we have started influencer mentorship programs, trying to give talented individuals coaching in regard to brand development, content production and general professionalism. With candidates like “Sterzik” we learned that one of the most impactful attributes is actually prior work experience in a different – likely more boring – field. Usually, influencers become famous at a young age, being confronted with an unhealthy amount of attention and unconditional recognition. The stereotypical issues arising from such an up-bringing is what has impacted a lot of downfalls. And Sterzik is the exact opposite: You will find him in the office at 8am in the morning, working with discipline and appreciation for his privileges.
Another reason for the downfall of influencer’s is a tendency to burnouts, however. The job of an influencer is more stressful that some might believe: You are constantly driven by numbers, guided by a never-ending feed of other people’s feedback. It feels awful to take breaks, because channels on social media, YouTube and Twitch will decrease in performance if you briefly pause churning out new content. That means that discipline is not only required to work hard, but also in order to learn healthy boundaries and to accept support.