UFC tweaking look and feel for the world

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Like Apple Inc, the UFC enjoys a tremendous advantage over competitors in the enormously compelling but hard to define “look and feel.” Indeed, the painstaking creation of the look and feel in the early years under ZUFFA is one of the central, if unheralded cornerstones of the UFC’s monumental success.

They now face a problem familiar to other top US brands that enter the international market – the product may have to be tweaked for the local market, but the core must remain identically. Take Heinz ketchup. When the ubiquitous condiment went North, it looked familiar, but was just a little less spicy.

The UFC now has a similar task ahead of them – when a show is in say China, the look and feel has to be the same, but the Octagon girl outfits have to be a little less spicy.

Alan Snel from the Las Vegas Review-Journal has the story.

The UFC is staging 26 fight shows outside the U.S. in 2014 — a big increase over the 16 international UFC events held in 2013. In mid-September alone, there will be four UFC international fight shows in Brazil, Europe, Asia and Canada during a two-week span.

To assure the international fight show productions meet UFC standards, the Las Vegas headquarters is sending staffers with fight event operations, regulatory, technical and production experience to work with UFC international offices and locally hired production crews and freelancers, said Craig Borsari, UFC executive vice president of operations and production.

“It’s a challenge. The goal is to put on a UFC event in an international (location) that looks, sounds and feels like those in the United States, but will have a localized feel to it so that it’s relevant and speaks to the local audience,” Borsari said.

“We know what works here and we think the high-energy experience has a global appeal. We do not want to strip that down and change anything in terms of the energy,” he said. “We want the signature look and feel of the UFC, but localize it to fans in that market.”

That means Borsari has to walk a fine line of re-creating UFC’s fight show atmosphere while being sensitive to the local customs, language, culture and traditions in the local market of any particular international setting.

“It’s a daily or nightly conversation with headquarters making sure the show build-out meets UFC standards with meeting local market nuances, like having local voices on promos and element pieces,” Borsari said.

“The videos will be catered to the market,” Borsari said. “UFC is high energy and the variations of what that energy will be is customized to Brazil, Japan or wherever the event is. There is not one piece of the element that runs in English. In Brazil, everything is in Portuguese. In Japan, everything is in Japanese.”

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