As the profiles of pro gamers garner more and more attention in the public eye, sponsorships and managers have increasingly become standard within the industry. This increased attention has earned the interest of another industry long used to having all eyes on them: the fashion industry. It was recently announced that the legendary agency, Ford Models, has created a division devoted to representing talent from the world of esports and gaming.
When Eileen and Jerry Ford founded Ford Models back in 1946, it’s highly unlikely that they would be able to predict that 74 years down the line, their clientele would include professional video gamers. Though to be fair, at the time, they probably wouldn’t have had any idea what video games were. However, even 20 years ago, the company was already interested in diversifying their portfolio to include talent in the hair, makeup, and wardrobe industries, as well as partnering with Random House with regards to an imprint of books, and getting into the art gallery business.
As of this month, according to an article from Esports Insider, Ford Models is launching a new division devoted to representing pro gamers as well as collaborating with leagues and stakeholders. By doing so, the legendary modeling agency will be able to assist in the promotion of esports under the direction of Justin M. Jacobson.
According to Jacobson, the agency is “Carefully selecting professional gamers, content creators, coaches, influencers and other talent who are dynamic and multi-faceted with strong personal brand potential, in addition to being at the top of their respective fields.” Considering the agency has a long and successful track record representing celebrities and public figures, they should have no problem leveraging their experience to access new demographics.
Among the individuals who’ve signed with Ford’s new division are esports caster Paul “Pauly Hype” Santoro and Ivan “OG KING CURT” Curtiss, Coach and General Manager of the Brooklyn Nets Gaming Crew of the NBA 2K League. While these folks may not be signing on to become models per se, as the market continues to shift and expand, it’s interesting to consider what this might mean for the future of esports with regards to celebrity and influencer culture. It’s not unusual to see pro athletes modeling in watch or cologne adverts. Who’s to say if the same may be true for figures from pro gaming in the near future.
If Ford Models is primarily interested in an individual’s potential for developing a lucrative personal brand, they’ve come to the right place. With the wealth of opportunities for sponsorships and the avenues for commentary, not to mention the numerous ways in which gamers, coaches, and streamers of all kinds are able to connect with and build their fan base, the esports industry is fertile ground for brand building.
If nothing else, the interest and participation of a cultural juggernaut like Ford Models in the continued blossoming of the esports industry is an exciting sign of the times.