Over the last four years, Candy Crush Saga’s celebrity partnerships have focused less on celebrity interactions and more on player experiences. Recent events featured fewer celebrity guests and fewer interactions from those guests. 

King has shifted away from high-profile celebrities and toward female musicians popular with young women. In its most recent events, King has also prioritized sponsored content from internet influencers in its most recent events.

By spending less on celebrities, King has been able to put greater focus on player experiences and incentives, like real-life prizes and in-person events.

Analyzing Four Years of Celebrity Partnerships in Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga has used celebrity partnerships for all of its annual Candy Crush All-Stars tournaments and its 10 year anniversary celebration. The tournament’s first iteration in 2020, which was only available in the UK, partnered with British radio personality Roman Kemp as well as a supporting cast of well-known British celebrities. The 2021 version was only available in the United States and partnered with reality TV star Khloé Kardashian with support from rapper Doja Cat and former NFL player Rob Gronkowski. In 2022, Candy Crush Saga partnered with Meghan Trainor for their 10 year anniversary celebration. And the most recent tournament in 2023 partnered with hip-hop artist Saweetie and celebrity jewelry company Icebox.

Through these four years of events, Candy Crush Saga has moved from partnering with high-profile TV personalities and athletes toward creating more personal connections with players through experiences, rewards, musician partnerships, and influencer campaigns. Their recent choice of partnerships also suggests they are targeting a young female audience.

Decreasing Celebrity Involvement

Candy Crush Saga’s events have steadily decreased the amount of celebrity interaction between players and have moved toward celebrities with lower profiles. The finals of the first tournament in 2020 was hosted live by multiple celebrities and featured an exceptionally high level of interactions, albeit for a small number of players. The final round was even played live on a video call with all of the celebrities and players. These celebrities are not global superstars, but many of them are household names in the UK where the tournament was held, including host Roman Kemp (image).

In contrast, the 2021 All Stars tournament was held in the US and partnered with three major celebrities—Khloé Kardashian, Doja Cat, and Rob Gronkowski—but had less direct celebrity interactions than the first one. While the event was advertised as being hosted by Khloé Kardashian, it was actually hosted by two non-celebrity actors on a digital game show set. The celebrities were incorporated via a few video messages to players, including a video from Khloé Kardashian celebrating the event’s winner. The celebrities also participated in multiple promotional videos, in-app messages for players, and a sponsored segment on The Late Late Show with James Corden (image).

Candy Crush Saga pivoted its strategy around celebrity partnerships during its 10th anniversary celebration in 2022. This celebration offered unique real-world and online interactions for a large number of players in addition to its celebrity promotion. While there was no tournament in 2022, the game’s anniversary was marked by three events: an in-app takeover by Meghan Trainor, a real-life carnival in NYC, and a livestream with the developer.

Meghan Trainor’s in-app takeover challenged players to recover the singer’s missing microphones (image). The event also featured 24 hour exclusive access to her new music video “Made You Look” and behind-the-scenes footage.

A week after the Meghan Trainor takeover, King threw a carnival in downtown Manhattan that included Candy Crush-inspired food and drinks, a giant ball pit, carnival games, music from DJ Luda Love, and more. The carnival culminated in a 10-minute light show performed by 500 synchronized drones.

Ten days later, the company held a virtual event to mark the actual day of the anniversary in which employees unveiled a new in-game feature (Mr. Toffee Secret Vault), shared Candy Crush Saga secrets, and premiered a brand-new soundtrack for the game. There were also in-app reward and mission events tied to the anniversary.

Finally, the 2023 All Stars tournament continued the trend of decreasing celebrity involvement in favor of influencer marketing and real-life player interactions. This tournament incorporated two promotional videos made with Saweetie, and also included a wide range of sponsored content from internet influencers—but notably did not include any promises of interactions with celebrities. And while Saweetie is undeniably an accomplished and popular rapper, she’s not as famous as any of the celebrities from the previous two events. In a break from previous tournaments, in-app activities were presented by a unicorn mascot rather than a celebrity (image). The event offered diamond ring prizes for the top three players, an in-person final round in London, and perhaps most importantly, a $250K prize pool

By spending less on celebrities for the 2023 tournament, Candy Crush Saga was able to offer real-world prizes that generated major buzz. In lieu of direct celebrity interactions, the 2023 tournament prioritized real-world incentives for players, including a $250K cash prize pool, custom diamond rings from a celebrity jeweler, and an in-person finals in London. These valuable prizes led to multiple viral Tweets and articles about the tournament.

Event Impacts

The 2020 finals have been viewed over 380K times on YouTube as of this report. The event produced a 1% MoM revenue increase—the smallest percentage increase of the four events we’ve analyzed, likely because it was only in the UK.

The bigger names and larger market for the 2021 event translated to 1.1M views in the first three days of the finals being posted. Unfortunately, it appears that Candy Crush Saga has since removed the finals video, possibly due to the terms of the celebrities’ licenses. The event produced an 8% MoM revenue increase—an especially significant boost for a market leader like Candy Crush Saga. Our analysis of the 2021 tournament is available here.

The three anniversary events in 2022 produced a staggering 28% MoM revenue increase. There was a spike in revenue at the start of the Meghan Trainor event, but the most sustained revenue increase came from the days surrounding the carnival.

The 2023 tournament promotional videos from Saweetie garnered 5.3M views at the time of this report, and the sponsored content from internet influencers received over 16M views. This event produced a 6% MoM revenue increase. Our full analysis of the 2023 tournament is available here.

Shifting Demographics

The exclusive use of Saweetie in the latest tournament marks a clear demographic shift to target young women in particular. This may indicate that Candy Crush Saga was happy with the results from Doja Cat’s involvement in the 2021 tournament (Doja Cat and Saweetie have similar audiences and have released music together).

It’s possible that King has decided celebrity partnerships are a more valuable tool for expanding reach to new demographics (women under 25) than consolidating their hold over audiences they already dominate (women aged 35+). The choice of Meghan Trainor for their anniversary celebration further supports this strategy.

While past celebrities like Rob Gronkowski and Khloé Kardashian are popular with older demographics and have a wide reach, King may have decided their impact was not worth their price tag relative to the value offered by Saweetie and internet influencers. King could be testing out influencer endorsements not just to reach a younger demographic, but also because they have been shown to be more persuasive than traditional celebrity endorsements. This is because consumers find influencers more trustworthy and authentic than traditional celebrities.

Candy Crush Saga has also moved toward musicians and away from TV personalities and athletes. This could be because they saw the best community reaction from their musician partnerships, potentially due to fans having strong emotional connections to music.

But whatever the reason, they aren’t slowing down. In May 2023, they partnered with the Jonas Brothers for an in-game takeover as part of Candy Crush Saga’s three week Music Season event (image). Like the Meghan Trainor event, the takeover featured avatars of the three brothers and exclusive musical content, including early access to two singles from their new album and a Candy Crush-exclusive remix of their single “Waffle House.” Both Meghan Trainor and the Jonas Brothers stated they were longtime fans of the game, giving more credibility to the endorsements and relatability to the celebrities.


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