May 9 2023 02:12 PM

Gen Z gamers are powering up with chocolate milk.

Who could have predicted that playing video games would become a global billion-dollar industry? And yet, here we are.

Esports, or electronic sports, refers to organized competitive video gaming primarily involving teams that compete against each other for prizes. There are even hundreds of millions of esports spectators who watch the gamers compete against each other virtually.

One major reason esports have become so popular is because of its accessibility. Games can be played from computers, smartphones, tablets, and gaming consoles. making them available whenever and wherever.

Who is playing esports? It’s the most digitally connected generation— that’s Gen Z. Aged 11 to 26, Gen Z makes up 20% of the U.S. population and spends $143 billion annually. This is the very generation we need to recruit to be life-long dairy consumers.

American Dairy Association North East has jumped on the esports bandwagon and created a new campaign to reach the gaming Gen Z audience called “Powered by Chocolate Milk.” We are partnering with six college esports teams in our region that are members of the National Association of Collegiate eSports. These include the University of Buffalo, Utica University, University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, Robert Morris University, DeSales University, and Lackawanna College. No violent or mature-rated video games are part of our sponsorships, and each school’s esports program will promote chocolate milk in a variety of ways.

“Powered by Chocolate Milk” sponsored its first esports tournament at Penn State University, the 2023 Nittany Invitational, this spring. Seven colleges and 65 competitors powered up with chocolate milk from the university’s Berkey Creamery during the two-day event.

The tournament was also livestreamed on Twitch, an interactive livestreaming service with a focus on video gaming and other entertainment content. Our chocolate milk messages and shoutouts were a regular part of the broadcast. Each competitor received “Powered by Chocolate Milk” branded swag, including a portable power bank, a drawstring bag, and a laptop sticker.

“Reaching consumers with the good news of dairy is not ‘one size fits all’ like when dairy checkoff began in 1984,” said ADA North East CEO John Chrisman. “Some of these marketing concepts are foreign to many of us, but it’s so important that we meet the Gen Z audience where they are with messages that resonates with their personal wants and needs. We’re excited about this new approach to connecting with younger consumers who will benefit from milk’s nutritional package.”

Several other state and regional dairy checkoff organizations have also established esports campaigns. To learn more about “Powered by Chocolate Milk,” visit

Jean Kummer

Jean Kummer is the industry communications specialist for American Dairy Association North East.