USAA Becomes Presenting Partner of Call of Duty League in Multiyear Deal

Call of Duty League has landed USAA as a new partner, filling its official insurance category heading into the season and finding a military tie-in in the process.

Terms were not revealed for the deal aside from it being multiyear. USAA becomes the official insurance partner, presenting partner of the CDL pre-show program, and presenting partner of a new CDL Military Appreciation Week that will take place later this year.

This is USAA’s first partnership with a pro esports league, though it has helped put on amateur gaming events at military bases previously and also previously sponsored some work with the Call of Duty Endowment, the non-profit co-founded by Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick that seeks to help prepare veterans to find jobs.

USAA Lead Marketing Manager Harvey Chang told Sports Business Journal that the company signed the deal because it wants to raise its brand awareness among military members and eventually message to them about the different products it can provide them. Jack Harari, Activision Blizzard Esports’ vice president of global partner development, noted that the average age of CDL viewers is 25, so this will help USAA market to a younger audience than some of its other sports partnerships and media buys.

Chang and Harari both noted that they hope the partnership is mutually beneficial in that USAA can help expose the CDL to more people. Call of Duty is a first-person shooter game, so it has natural allure to, and connections with, the military.

USAA works with 160over90 for its sports marketing and PR, and it works with Publicis for its media buying.

Harari: “USAA is a brand that we’ve been talking to for a little while across the Call of Duty franchise, and for us at CDL, we want CDL to work with brands that are an obvious fit for who we are and what we’re trying to do; USAA checks all those boxes, and we check those boxes for them.”

Chang said key performance indicators to judge the success of the partnership include viewership on YouTube, viewership of content series it will be involved with and click-through rates to its website. He said USAA is in gaming organizations with teams about adding a CDL team component to the deal but that it was not in a rush to do so.

“This is an opportunity to expand our presence and have a foothold within the gaming landscape,” said Chang. “Call of Duty has been around for quite some time and we’re currently serving that demo, so it’s an awesome opportunity to meet them where they’re at, reinforce our awareness, and just show them we support this passion play of theirs.”