FaZe Clan’s DoorDash partnership is about as rare as a good steak sub. Actually, because of this deal, those steak subs aren’t even that rare, as FaZe’s DoorDash deal is all about sandwiches. In late July, the L.A.-based esports and lifestyle organization announced FaZe Subs with DoorDash, following their original deal in May (DoorDash’s first and only partnership in esports) that included integrated content. The two partnered with Virtual Dining Concepts, which contracts out to restaurants, caterers and ghost kitchens to deliver menus developed for partners such as Barstool Sports, Mariah Carey and steamer Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson.
“We have a non-traditional way of looking at games. Nothing here is traditional when we talk about partnerships. We went into that partnership with the goal of not only growing brands but to build a new business venture,” said Brooklyn “BK” Augustin, FaZe Clan’s director of brand and creative strategy, to Sports Business Journal.
The result is a line of DoorDash-exclusive sandwiches called “FaZe Subs,” all with names that tie into esports and gaming culture in some manner. Options include the The Rugfather inspired by FaZe Rug (smoked turkey and provolone with guac, pepperoncini, FaZe Sauce, and Funyuns), the Hot Drop (grilled chicken with buffalo sauce, provolone, and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos), and the Touch Grass, a vegetarian option that plays on a popular gaming meme.
“This is the easiest one to show the synergies and call outs in our menu items,” BK said. “We wanted a veggie option. We didn’t want to roll out one sort of style and alienate our community. The creative team — Connie Ashford — said why don’t we call it ‘Touch Grass,’ what gamers joke about when looking too much at a screen, ‘Go touch grass.’ It’s like ‘stop sitting so close to the screen.’ It’s a play on that. Any gamer that sees this will say ‘It resonates with me.’ It’s a cooler way to [present] our veggie options.”
FaZe and DoorDash started talking about the partnership early in 2022, without any agency involvement. “We met with that crew, and we hit it off with them. We just aligned,” BK said. “We have the same goals, the same synergies. Convenience is what DoorDash stands for,” noting that gamers and esports fans alike — FaZe’s core audience and those that watch Rug, the face of the program — fit the demographics for what DoorDash is looking for.
And what is that demo? BK notes its core is gamers and young people, folks consuming content (often on mobile). “Internet kids,” BK joked. “Respectfully, we broke it down, and there’s an overlap with Rug, who tends to skew younger — college students, people on the go, gamers at large. They snag food and get back to what they’re doing.”
The idea for subs came from “a collection of smart people and the founders [such as CEO Lee Trink, Head of Sales Adam Bower, Richard “Banks” Bengston, Sebastian “Cbass” Diamon, Brian “Rug” Awadis and other FaZe founders],” BK said, acknowledging the genius in subs being a double entendre for “subscriptions,” the lifeblood of FaZe’s streaming and video businesses. “We asked, how do we continue to build the FaZe empire and not just jump in and take advantage of fans?”
The idea of food came up. Other creators were doing meals and burgers, but no one was doing on-demand sandwiches. “We saw white space there,” BK said.
FaZe picked Rug as the first to roll out the program because of his demographics, but also because the size of his fan base online. He helped create it, too. “We wanted him to have input on what the sub looked like, tasted like,” BK said.
This is where Virtual Dining Concepts came in. FaZe Subs is its first esports partnership (it had a partnership with Five Nights at Freddy’s for pizza), and VDC President and cofounder Robbie Earl said they were “delighted” to partner with FaZe and DoorDash. “For us, the parallels between food ordering and esports were huge. It’s a big audience [that’s] watching streamers.”
VDC handles the food and restaurant partners, turning to mom-and-pops, ghost kitchens and other options. The pandemic “absolutely accelerated the virtual restaurant business,” Earl said. “It helped a good handful of restaurants maintain their business during the pandemic.”
After figuring out a menu, testing it and making sure partner kitchens were all lined up, FaZe Subs rolled out in select cities in July (it’s added more since). They picked July, instead of trying the launch to the beginning of school or the NFL season, because it gave them plenty of time to tinker with the program, before and after. “I never thought I’d be in so many meetings about how many combinations of subs should be on a menu,” BK said. With food, “there are so many conversations to think about — chips getting soggy too long on sub is something that never would come to mind. We felt [the summer] was a good window to start, to test and get it out of the world. We know what subs are working, we know how we can expand and grow. Summertime allowed for us to tinker with that process and what the actual rollout and messaging — not falling over ourselves.”
The project’s look and feel came from Eric Rodriguez of FaZe’s Toronto office, capturing what BK described as a “VeggieTales” vibe. “I said it in a meeting and someone looked at me like I was crazy, and I said, OK, I’m old,” BK joked. “Rodriguez brought it to life, on Instagram, in animations and shorts.”