The Washington Post is reporting that several major Overwatch League sponsors are considering yanking their funding for Blizzard’s premiere esports league in the wake of a lawsuit filed by the State of California Department of Fair Employment and Housing that alleged Activision Blizzard fostered an environment of harassment and discrimination at the company.
Those sponsors aren’t lightweights either. These include major advertising spenders like beverage maker Coca-Cola, insurance company State Farm, and telecom company T-Mobile.
T-Mobile’s lack of branding on Overwatch League events began to manifest shortly after the lawsuit’s filing, as first noticed by Polygon. But Washington Post is now confirming that Coca-Cola and State Farm are actively reconsidering their sponsorships with the League.
State Farm has apparently asked the League to not run any advertisements featuring the company over this weekend, while Coca-Cola is “actively monitoring the situation.”
All three brands might return to the League in the future, but the fact that they’re considering exiting the League after the lawsuit’s revelations is notable.
The Overwatch League doesn’t represent a large revenue stream for Activision Blizzard, but it’s a legitimizing force meant to drive interest in Overwatch and build financial relationships with sponsors like Coca-Cola. It's a small part of the impact on Activision Blizzard's financials that the company warned investors about during its quarterly earnings call this week.
If these companies decide to permanently yank their sponsorship, it’ll be another example of once again, how unchecked harassment and discrimination can do financial damage to institutions that allow them.