eSports

AFK Creators rebrands to AFK Group, expands offerings across industries – Esports Insider

The AFK Creators name has housed a range of services under one roof over the years. However, as of today, the UK-based agency has rebranded to AFK Group as the firm looks to distinguish its business units.

Unified by a ‘sleek but not too corporate’ black and gold palette, each AFK agency unit now boasts its own dedicated website, making it clear for prospective clients which services each entity provides and who they will be working with.

The new design, spearheaded by AFK Group’s Marketing Manager, Danielle Morgan, reflects the internal restructuring of the company into distinct company focuses — AFK Creators, AFK Pros, and AFK Digital.

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Under the AFK Group banner, AFK Creators will continue to represent gaming and lifestyle talent. Meanwhile, the previously announced AFK Pros will support professional esports athletes, coaches and support.

The group’s CEO Matt ‘Mattheos’ Woods told Esports Insider that AFK Digital is ‘a standalone influencer marketing agency’, that will serve ‘international brands, publishers, and developers across all categories’.

Woods started the agency out of his living room in 2018. After bringing in Co-Founder Haodong Zhang, the two built the company from part-time staff and students to 45 agents, executives, managers, and creatives.

 “We’ve developed our creative strategies from our work within the esports and gaming communities,” Woods said. “How to go to market with influencers, how to drive ROI sales, how to help clients grow their businesses on Twitch, YouTube, and TikTok most specifically — all of this expertise comes from our work in the industry.

Through representing some of the sector’s biggest talent and rising stars, whilst also helping brands succeed on platforms gaming audiences resonate with, the company’s growth necessitated the restructure.

Woods explained: “As we’ve grown, we could see potential issues that could arise.

“We want to avoid any conflicts of interests by representing a talent and working with a brand under the same name, under the same roof.”

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Although the company has expanded, Woods emphasised that the agency holds true to its values from day one. This includes trust, transparency, and working to disrupt any bad practices in the industry by helping the whole ecosystem enact and embrace positive changes.

Despite being separate, the success of each AFK Group business unit is mutually beneficial. Lessons learned from brand activations can inform talent agents about potential partnerships down the line. Meanwhile, agents working with talent share insights into digital marketing, which helps to correctly identify KPIs for client campaigns. 

According to Woods, most non-endemic brands approaching the agency first-and-foremost want to understand live-streaming and on-demand video platforms, not necessarily activate within gaming. Nevertheless, beauty brand Clear Start and men’s grooming brand MANSCAPED have successfully created gaming-focused campaigns led by AFK Digital’s influencer marketing expertise.

AFK’s ability to apply its expertise to guide brands, meet goals, and find success is more appropriate than trying to manoeuvre a brand into the gaming market. The agency also found that its understanding and skillsets in digital platforms — enhanced by the gaming community — readily applies to greater digital ecosystems as well.

Confining AFK Group to gaming categories exclusively would be leaving money and opportunities on the table. According to Esports Charts, the number one category on Twitch is ‘Just Chatting’, the platform’s non-gaming section.

Gaming and lifestyle have blended into one another over the years, forming a hybrid market rich with traditionally hard-to-reach younger generations. These audiences are receptive to new ideas, experiences, and products through content produced by their favourite creators.

Because of this coalescence, AFK Group has a birds-eye view across a swathe of content platforms and is able to connect talent with new opportunities. As well as providing clients with new tools to grow businesses.

However, the waters where AFK Group operates are getting crowded. News of industry vets forming new agencies regularly appears on headlines while a number of non-endemic agencies — such as Unsigned Group, Creative Artists Agency, and Ford Models — are staking legacies and clients into the space.

Even established esports ownership groups, such as Misfits Gaming Group and ReKTGlobal have Evolved or acquired agency arms in a never-ending pursuit of revenue.

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Woods believes that one of the reasons behind the talent management agency boom is a response to the industry’s lack of quality when it comes to managing talent. Between intensive streaming and/or scrimming schedules and the pressure to perform before highly engaged audiences — the logistics of handling business inquiries and contract negotiations on behalf of the talent is best left to professional agencies.

“I think there’s so many cases in that sense where talent can run into issues if you don’t have someone who’s just fully prepared to fight your corner no matter what,” Woods said.

AFK Group has been taking those fights across the globe since its inception, which is part of why it has grown so much. While the UK-based agency has a focus on the English-speaking market, the group plans to further develop into Spanish-speaking markets, with agents already in place in Spain and Latin America. 

Equipped with a new brand identity that seeks to be a lasting expression across its expansions, the agency is showing that its experiences in the gaming space have cross-play capabilities.

Whether it’s talent management or digital marketing, AFK Group applies its expertise with the precision and growth that the creators, pros and brands it represents have become known for.

Supported by AFK Group

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