NEW YORK: The Video Game Entertainment and News Network (VENN) has hired The Story Mob and DKC for communications support.
Launching in 2020, VENN will serve as an alternative entertainment platform for gaming and esports fans. Founded by Ariel Horn and Ben Kusin, who are also co-CEOs, VENN’s programming will include reality TV, game shows and other forms of content.
While Story Mob engages with the VENN’s native, more esoteric gaming audience, DKC will help bring VENN to a mainstream audience.
Story Mob cofounder Nicola Piggott is the account lead.
DKC’s remit includes earned media, business and consumer comms, thought leadership and networking. The agency is looking for "synergies" between its existing client roster and VENN, including marketing partnerships, said Jeff Klein, DKC’s MD of technology and media.
One of DKC’s biggest gaming clients is FaZe Clan, one of the largest esports organizations in the country.
"If MTV’s Total Request Live and ESPN had a love child, that’s the space we occupy," Kusin said, adding that gaming is the pulse of pop culture today. "We’re the Venn diagram of where gaming and entertainment exists."
With a goal for "universal distribution," VENN sees itself as a platform by which brands can engage with millennials and Gen Z in native integrations, according to Horn and Kusin.
Opportunities are relatively limited for brands to advertise in gaming and esports, Kusin added. VENN can communicate with its audience 24 hours a day.
Horn previously worked at Riot Games and Blizzard Entertainment, where he developed esports production. Kusin is a veteran of Vivendi Games, which merged with Activision in 2007, forming Activision-Blizzard, the owner of Major League Gaming, an esports broadcaster.
The company’s first hire was executive producer Dustin D’Addato, who helped build the League of Legends Championship Series at Riot Games with Horn.
"I’ve spent my entire career in esports talking directly to the audience — even from the control room during live broadcasts," Horn said. "So as we start to talk publicly about VENN, the goal is to communicate early and often. We want to make sure we’re communicating authentically and we’re getting our vision across to the audience."
Recently, VENN announced it secured $17 million in seed round funding for its launch to build live studios in New York and Los Angeles and fill out its ranks.