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Why Santos HotForex Might be Opening New Possibilities for Clubs and Brands in Esports

In November 2019 the Brazilian team Santos e-Sports reached a sponsorship agreement with financial broker HotForex. From that moment on, the team’s name officially became Santos HotForex. A sponsorship deal with naming rights is not exactly new in the esports world, given the examples of Vodafone Giants in Spain and Vivo Keyd in Brazil. However, the Santos HotForex deal definitely draws attention since the organization involved is one of the most traditional sports clubs in the country.

Santos is best known worldwide for its soccer team: it is the team that presented Pelé (Edson Arantes do Nascimento) to the world 60 years ago, and Neymar (Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior) 10 years ago. This partnership shows an extremely traditional club, with a passionate fanbase, directly associating its name and logo with a brand and launching what may (or may not) be a new trend in the world of esports business.

To understand what the process was for HotForex to enter Brazilian esports while sharing the name of such a traditional sports organization, The Esports Observer spoke with Leonardo Di Prado, CEO of Select e-Sports Management, the company in charge of Santos’ esports organization. 

Di Prado explained the terms of the agreement and the process leading up to the close of the deal:

“HotForex is the master sponsor of Santos e-Sports, entitled to the project’s naming rights. Even with this quota acquisition, the company has zero influence on sports or administrative management in our project. We received the demand from a European sponsorship agency, which brought up the interest of HotForex in sponsoring a large soccer club in Brazil in electronic sport. The negotiation went well, and we managed to build a good deal for both sides.”

By associating its brand with a big soccer club, even if only for its esports branch, HotForex could have faced resistance by more traditionalist fans, or restrictive policies on the part of the club management for changing the name as the new sponsor. Leonardo, however, said that did not happen:

“The reaction of the fans was very positive,” he said. ”The fans have affection for the brands that support and strengthen Santos, and many got interested in learning more about the company. It opens us an opportunity to impact this new audience with branded content created on a product/service that is not endemic to the esports scene.” Regarding the club’s internal discussions on the deal, Di Prado said that the process was natural like any other decision, and “the only difference was that we had to approve the new logo, with the addition of HotForex.”

Di Prado also noted that he did not feel any resistance from other companies involved in the esports universe regarding the name change: “The press and developer companies reacted well to it and adopted the naming rights [they do not suppress it when talking about the team]. This helps us to value this asset, and we are happy to see the maturity with which the scenario has dealt with this.” He also points out that “the exposure of the HotForex brand through naming rights has a direct impact on our media deliveries, which leverages its image on the Brazilian esports scene.”

The agreement between Santos and HotForex is valid until December 2020, but according to Leonardo, “both parties have already shown interest in renewing and expanding the sponsorship.” When asked if the model established between the traditional club and the sponsoring company could become a trend, Di Prado was cautiously optimistic: “I can’t say if it will become a trend, but we can say that we are satisfied with the relationship and hope to have HotForex with us for many years.”

Santos HotForex currently fields teams in several esports including League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Rainbow Six, PUBG MOBILE, and Free Fire.

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