Sponsorship in Airsoft

So like… sponsorship is showing it’s ugly and pretty face in Airsoft. I’m divided by the concept of sponsorship. Don’t get me wrong, if somebody came to me and offered me a bunch of free stu… well free shit – I probably wouldn’t say no.

But does this new trend mean that Airsoft is becoming a commercialized sport in which sponsors are shown on team shirts and grand tournaments are going to be held with a money pool the size of Kanye West’s ego? The polite answer: Fuck no!

This ain’t Paintball or Football or even Iceball. There won’t be televised tournaments where it’s a 5v5 team death match… because Airsoft in general isn’t like that. Airsoft of course has it’s roots in pickup games with a small amount of players facing each other. But the real big hitters are the big events like OP Irene, Iron Claw, Berget etc. But there could never be a singled out player or team for the #1 spot with these big events.

Paintball is great for sponsorship because the product range is “limited” and players are in focus for their skills… you know, speed, quick thinking, teamwork, super quick speed shooting blah blah. I don’t really watch Paintball tournaments that much, I’ll be honest about that. But it sure is fun to play.

 It’s all about business and generating sales

Now Airsoft has the speed ball games and could easily become a somewhat popular sport with some sponsorship to back it up (despite the 100 rps+400 hicap magazines kinda ruins the game). But it’s going to have a tough time breaking the Paintball reign. Airsoft may kiss the ring, but never touch the crown.

And Airsoft is a tough way to market products through sponsorships – right now the main trend is having a popular internet personality run with their products and speak highly about their stuff… And it works. This is marketing sponsorship 101, duh dummy.

Sponsorship works when you have a blog or Youtube video – With focus on the product and a sales pitch which is most likely scripted and that’s fair enough.  It’s all about business and generating sales, views, brand awareness and all the other fancy marketing words.

We all know when Youtubers and bloggers start to get a very good amount of views, the “free gifts” start pouring in – and they only keep doing that as long as you keep the view count up and say nice purdy things about the free shit. Or at least leave out the negative stuff.

Honest marketing and transparency are also the buzz words used lately when it comes to marketing, but I really don’t want to get into that for this article.

However there aren’t grand Airsoft tournaments, no team shirts with room for a bunch of logos and… let’s face it, people look more at how the guns and gear are set up, rather than performance and brand. Because Airsoft guns and gear offer so much in the customization department you aren’t limited to just a few brands or designs.

For an example if you were a manufacture and you launched a new M4/AR15 – gave them for free to a whole team as part of a sponsorship, what would make it so unique that other players wouldn’t just go out, buy another cheaper M4/AR15 and customize it to look like your product?

With the AR platform that’s a very likely scenario since the AR platform are by far the most popular type of Airsoft rifle with a TON of upgrades and accessories coming from a LOT of manufactures. So that kind of sponsorship would have to be unique to guarantee the best ROI (return of investment).

And to be honest, we don’t have or will have any player or teams worth a high level of sponsorship from manufactures, not on a competitive level.

Or…?

What about sponsorship from companies outside Airsoft?

Try to imagine this… Redbull – known for big ass tournaments and events, held one mother fud pucker of an Airsoft event?

Big cash prizes, big playing field for massive team vs team, with woodland and CQB buildings. How would that change the aspect of sponsorship’s in Airsoft. What Redbull does right, is that they create content and not advertising. That’s their brilliant strategy and platform that keeps them in plain view all the time and making them a very well known brand.

Redbull isn’t the only master when it comes to Brand awareness and content creation. Monster Energy is also getting into the content creation. You see them follow up on other events in Esports(video games) and of course the obligatory “Extreme Sports”.

Loadout for Sunday gaming.
Loadout for Sunday gaming.

They manage to make big events that are world famous and get all the exposure without having to push it down peoples throats. Big brands these days, doesn’t just focus on paying a lot of money for one particular athlete to wear their logo. No they pay for an event where all the athletes wants to attend.

Right now Airsoft is still considered a bad guy

If Airsoft began to have events sponsored by BIG brands like Redbull, Monster Energy (the devils energy drink, did you see that video ‘haha’) or another brand relevant to Airsoft, then the face of Airsoft would change – for the better or worse. In my honest opinion for the better.

Right now Airsoft is still considered a bad guy, due to the fact that they resemble real firearms. And with war, gun bans and school shootings – real firearms aren’t very popular to the general public and very few companies outside the industry would consider a sponsorship venture into the Airsoft business out of fear of being portrayed as a support of death, violence and Sponge bob and other evil things the world holds in Crime Alley (awesome reference, if you get it)

NRA is trying hard to make firearms and the lifestyle that follows more mainstream with their marketing and visual expression. Some firearms companies are also following the same trend… to be honest some of the work you see online, looks more and more like a commercial for Redbull or Monster Energy, hell even Nike.

Check this video, doesn’t it make you want to paraglide, shoot and just be a free spirit…

Or this inspirational video from Warsport Industries:

Cinematography is on point all the way

As a final thought, what if the Airsoft manufacturers actually went with the marketing trends of today and said ‘fuck it’, we’ll hold one ass-kicking event, no matter what other brands people use for Airsoft. How would that change the game? (again honest marketing and transparency)

Airsoft is a tricky industry to really capitalize on, especially if you’re a company looking for a way in from the outside. But anything is possible – and I’m sure the trend of sponsorships are only going to grow and evolve into something a lot bigger and better for Airsofters around the world.