UnderGround Forums
 

UnderGround Forums >> Ambush Marketing or Sponsor?


12/8/09 12:47 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Magnetic
183 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 9/6/06
Posts: 1905
Magnetic Marketing Associates, President
 
To sponsor something is to support it. In our sport (MMA) we are talking about athletes, events, and possibly gyms. Since the down turn of the economy you have seen more and more of the main MMA sponsors disappear or change their sponsorship terms.

What is happening today is brands are calling themselves sponsors to Ambush a particular event. We are hearing more and more that sponsor dollars are tied to TV exposure and if a fighter is not on a televised card there is no money available for him or her. Yet the fighters have no control over televising the fight or not. They control the training, the preparation and of course the execution of the fight,

It takes the average top level cycling team about 8-14 million dollars to have riders qualified enough to place at the top of the biggest races in the World. These sponsors invest in equipment, training, physical wellness, and coaches to help there athletes reach the top. Yet only one rider can win the Yellow Jersey. There is no guarantee that the team they assemble will win, challenge or even make it to the top. It is a risk and the reward could be your Team Winning the Tour De France.

NASCAR Teams usually take on a few exclusive brand sponsors that again agree to pay for tires, testing, best pit crew money can buy, engine and aerodynamic science to go faster and win some races. Being in the top 10 is often a goal because the owners and sponsors know that is who the crowd gets behind and that that where the TV Cameras are going to be. These Teams can cost sponsors upwards of 2-5 million per race and no guarantees of TV time, exposure etc.

I can give example after example but this is combat sports and that means most everything is pay for play. Fighters, trainers, training partners live in a Pay for Play world. If they can reach the biggest stage they can then trade placement on their shorts for money. If they get hurt while training for the “bigger stage” they make nothing. If their opponent gets injured and a fight can’t be rescheduled they make no money. If they end up on the un-televised portion of the biggest stage they make less or no money.

There is no support system for building better fighters. Imagine if NASCAR still used 1970 Monte Carlos and never evolved to the speed rockets they have today. What if Coke told its top racer we will give you 8 million if you win and nothing if you don’t make it on TV.

That is what is going on in MMA. You can’t call yourself a sponsor or a supporter of the sport if you are buying patches on fighters that are televised. To be a true sponsor you have to support the fighters through training, through winning and loosing. It is an investment in the fighter’s future and your brands future. If you are just paying when he or she has a televised fight then are you not just stealing exposure from the promoter? The fighter does not own that television time paying them for it and not the sacrifices made by him, his trainers and training partners is a disservice to the sport.

If you’re a sponsor rep and your trading televised spots for money, are you really doing your client any favors? What happens when all organizations charge a sponsor tax? What about when the sponsors refuse to pay because the promotion decided to bump the fight from televised to dark?

Many fighters show up to fight for the money, the show money and the sponsor money. Then they have to collect AFTER they perform. No credit for the training, no credit for the training injuries and the sacrifices in the gym that helped the fighter reach this spot.

Sponsors are not the problem they are operating in a world created by others. Brand X wants to be affiliated with this fighter because this fighter will be on TV. As Managers, Agents, fighters etc we need to look for ways to give the sponsor more then a patch next to their competitor. We need to develop marketing solutions that include activating the brand into the sport and marketing platforms that allow the sponsor to have exposure points when the fighter is not on SOMEONE’s TV show. The fights and ambush branding should be secondary to the overall campaign.

Developing marketing platforms that involve the fighters and brands. Help the brands reach the fans of the sport and stop relying on the UFC or some other organization to build your fighters name and thus allow you to do more sponsoring dollars.

We have been bringing in over $250,000 a year in sponsorship money as a result we have increased sales for companies and opportunities for fighters. We don’t treat the fighter like a commodity that creates opportunity for us. We work for the fighter and the brand. We help them determine goals and build a program that helps them reach those goals. Marketing in this new economy is about delivering results. If you get a brand on the UFC other agents will call that brand, but have you reached or touched the consumer? Converting sales and reaching a measurable return on investment is what brands want. If sponsor reps really believed that merely putting your logo on the ass of a fighter will spur sales wouldn’t they be putting their companies logo and not Tapouts.

As a fighter invest in yourself and your coaches. Build a brand for you. Only fighters and trainers know how hard they work to get to the fight, I think MMA fighters train harder then any other athlete in the world. The Ultimate Fighter tells you that lots of people are interested in seeing no name fighters train and live the fighter lifestyle on that road to greatness. Don’t wait until some promoter or MMA news site say’s you are great, make yourself great and brand yourself like you are the next Fedror. Act as if.

As a sponsor, get involved with your fighters. Make them a part of your brand. Look at Moto for a great example of how to harness the athletes and fans into a billion dollar industry. You wont see riders wearing Yamaha Jerseys riding a Suzuki. You see brands trying to connect with the consumer they want by supporting and developing the future leaders of the sport. Fighters have no control as to when they will be on TV but if you help build the best fighter in the World you will be on every media outlet you could ever had dreamed for,

Support the Sport and those that make it great. The only guaranteed TV time is to buy a commercial or sponsor the event itself.
12/8/09 9:48 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
MMARising
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 7/3/09
Posts: 246
MMARising.com, Owner
TTT
12/8/09 9:53 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
humphrey sphinctermuscle
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 12/08/09 9:53 PM
Member Since: 5/18/09
Posts: 2814
FRAT

Realize the sport is young (in the mainstream). things take time
12/8/09 10:44 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
sgavin
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/31/08
Posts: 7139
 Amen
12/8/09 11:39 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
LoganClark
23 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/9/06
Posts: 8113
Nope, Matt Major told me that he can make more fighting on his own than he could ever earn in the UFC. Major speaks truth.
12/9/09 12:45 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Santino DeFranco
117 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 3/9/03
Posts: 971
TTT
12/9/09 3:33 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
BoloYeung
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 12/15/03
Posts: 236
TTT
12/9/09 5:25 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
BoloYeung
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 12/15/03
Posts: 244
Ryan MacLeod - I hate to burst your bubble but you are comparing major professional sports to a sport that is filled with a lot of part-time athletes and wannabes. No disrespect to the guys that compete, but 99% of MMA fighters don't even deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as world class cyclists or Nascar drivers when talking about sponsorship money.

If I'm running a company you're damned right I want them on TV. It's not about building a star. It's about promoting my company. 

I'll take heat here for saying this because everyone is all about "supporting the fighters", but it's true.  If you want top sponsorship money or companies willing to take a chance on you, then you need to be one of the best in your business.  Guys that are only getting one or two races a year in Nascar are still one of the top 60 drivers in the world.  That's why companies are willing to take a chance.   But Billy Jim Bob fighting in the midwest isn't even in the top 100,000 in the world in fighting, so there's no reward for your risk.  He's never going to amount to anything other than a tough guy at the local bar.


I think that you're missing the point.

With sponsorship dollars, formerly part time athletes can make the transition to full time athletes because of the support of their sponsors.

But you support up and coming athletes who train and are active. Nobody is expecting Ecko UnLtd to pay Cabbage Correira's room and board.
12/9/09 8:38 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
fight4real
19 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 2/24/04
Posts: 1564
Good post with some great points...

There are way more people (with tons of money) who watch, enjoy and "support" MMA than there are people willing to put their money on the line. People's money is a lot more difficult to get than their "support." lol
12/9/09 10:53 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Stevicus
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 10/21/09
Posts: 15
Other than writing Joe "my favorite fighter" Smith a check, I think most fans are hard pressed to find a way to support fighters at the very base levels.
I have read threads about buying certain brands because they support fighters, but no one really knows how that money gets passed along, it is all business. The irony being, I bet Tapout easily carries the biggest roster of fighters in the sport, yet it is the most panned by "HARDCORE" fighters because it is closest to the mainstream.
Then you have the Hoelzer Reich brouhaha, where a group does sponsor a fighter, albeit with ulterior motives I am sure, and they are denied access to the biggest market in the sport. Another irony, that the UFC is doing to HR, what the mainstream is doing to MMA, assuming that it is unsavory and will turn off viewers. I mean, wouldn't Coke or Pepsi be all over this sport if they were not afraid of the stigma?
Right now the biggest ally and worst enemy of the MMA fighter is the UFC. They have been excellent at building the package, but have stepped on everyone to get there. They keep the small market fighter down by not promoting MMA at that level. They force sponsors to pay them to sponsor fighters at their events(horrible). They want total control of a fighter in perpetuity(this is the worst). Face it, everyone hates the comparisons, but the UFC is using the WWE business model and until a legit competitor comes along, it will probably not get any better.
The only things I can think of to fix this a little is maybe a fighters union, or more MMA industry businesses involving fighters from the ground up. It is good to know a lot of legit guys run gyms, but maybe you need to put Randy C or Jeff Curran on the board of directors for the UFC.
12/9/09 11:16 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Santino DeFranco
117 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 3/9/03
Posts: 973
Macleod,

Jason has brought multiple large corporations into MMA. You most likely wouldn't be seeing Ryan Bader, CB Dollaway, Jamie Varner and a few others from Arizona Combat Sports if it wasn't for Jason.

CB and Ryan were receiving salaries before they ever fought in MMA (I'm pretty sure neither had fought before salaries). Jason believed in them and saw talent. Jason got Soyo and MTX to provide them, as well as a few others, with salaries so they could train full time like professionals.

I don't believe Jason is telling all companies to grab beginners and start handing them monthly salaries, but talking more about branding. Certain Moto X, NASCAR, Cyclists etc...are all defined with a certain sponsor. Like in the past people would think of Nike and say Michael Jordan.

The other point is that if a company is only sponsoring with "pay for play" they are only getting their name out there during TV time. Don't get me wrong, TV is great, but fighters need to start to market themselves in other ways outside of the cage to earn other monetary compensations. MMA fighters aren't lucky enough to be able to have a PR firm handling things for them. Fighters need to get their name out there any way they can. Fighters can have websites and build fan followings, blog about training, twitter, do charity work, go on radio shows, etc...

If a sponsor jumps on these guys that have a "cult" following they can get a lot of exposure through many other outlets other than just TV. I know TV sponsorship is the mecca, but it isn't always that cut and dry.

Jason Miller is a great example of someone that has marketed the hell out of himself and it has completely paid off. He wasn't really in many televised fights, but he was doing funny youtube videos, blogs, radio shows and now everyone knows who he is. Don't you think his sponsors are happy they stuck with him and it's paying off?

And, sponsors are probably aware of the fact that a lot of the fighters won't make it big and on TV, but the ones that do make it worth it.
12/9/09 11:58 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Magnetic
183 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 9/6/06
Posts: 1911
Magnetic Marketing Associates, President
http://nightriderjewelry.com/?signature-series.html

this is something we started for fighters to make money when not fighting.
12/9/09 1:10 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
5150
1 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 2513
Ring Of Fire Championship Fighting, President
Great post Jason.

TTT
12/9/09 2:11 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Magnetic
183 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 12/09/09 2:11 PM
Member Since: 9/6/06
Posts: 1913
Magnetic Marketing Associates, President
Ryan MacLeod - 
Santino DeFranco - Macleod,

Jason has brought multiple large corporations into MMA. You most likely wouldn't be seeing Ryan Bader, CB Dollaway, Jamie Varner and a few others from Arizona Combat Sports if it wasn't for Jason.

CB and Ryan were receiving salaries before they ever fought in MMA (I'm pretty sure neither had fought before salaries). Jason believed in them and saw talent. Jason got Soyo and MTX to provide them, as well as a few others, with salaries so they could train full time like professionals.

I don't believe Jason is telling all companies to grab beginners and start handing them monthly salaries, but talking more about branding. Certain Moto X, NASCAR, Cyclists etc...are all defined with a certain sponsor. Like in the past people would think of Nike and say Michael Jordan.

The other point is that if a company is only sponsoring with "pay for play" they are only getting their name out there during TV time. Don't get me wrong, TV is great, but fighters need to start to market themselves in other ways outside of the cage to earn other monetary compensations. MMA fighters aren't lucky enough to be able to have a PR firm handling things for them. Fighters need to get their name out there any way they can. Fighters can have websites and build fan followings, blog about training, twitter, do charity work, go on radio shows, etc...

If a sponsor jumps on these guys that have a "cult" following they can get a lot of exposure through many other outlets other than just TV. I know TV sponsorship is the mecca, but it isn't always that cut and dry.

Jason Miller is a great example of someone that has marketed the hell out of himself and it has completely paid off. He wasn't really in many televised fights, but he was doing funny youtube videos, blogs, radio shows and now everyone knows who he is. Don't you think his sponsors are happy they stuck with him and it's paying off?

And, sponsors are probably aware of the fact that a lot of the fighters won't make it big and on TV, but the ones that do make it worth it.


I am not opposed to people trying to develop the sport and create new avenues for fighters to earn a salary. I just took issue with the comparison to Nascar and world class cycling. Appreciate your reply though.


I am saying it takes money to develop talent. Those sports are not baseline comparable I understand. The point is the guy on the UFC main card likely trained the same way the guy on the under card trained.

This is not anyone's fault it is just the way things are right now. I manage over $300,000 annual MMA budget for one company so I see both sides of the argument. Fighters have to show value to sponsors, managers need to do more to help build the brand of the fighters and the sport. Managers need to offer sponsors more then patches on shirts and shorts. We are trying to build marketing platforms for our fighters and sponsors.

Like I said I am not finger pointing. Its just a fact of our industry. What the new companies want are the big names and the companies that supported those names when they were not big names take over.

I think if you ask the OG clothing companies (Hitman, TapouT, Sprawl etc) they will tell you that they could not have gotten where they are without the support of the fighters and the fighters should say the same. Back then it was as much about building relationships as it is brands.

Now we need creative solutions to help support the future of the sport (the up and coming fighters).
12/9/09 2:51 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
BigBlueNinja
3 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 12/18/06
Posts: 4156
 ttt
12/9/09 3:48 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Baki Stout
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 11/29/08
Posts: 1080
 Great post!
12/11/10 11:03 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Shane Carwin
105 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 12/11/10 11:03 AM
Member Since: 10/11/06
Posts: 882
ttt- I am living the model he is talking about. A few years ago when he was explaining this model I had no idea what he was saying. Now all I have to do is look in my account and I know he was speaking the truth.

Fighters put yourself first. If your agent is on the mma news more than you be worried. If you promote yourself and build your own following you can sell your own value. BJ Penn does it all the time. I made am earning in the ring and out of the ring. The economy has gotten worse but I have not felt it.
12/11/10 12:18 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
HITMANDANDIAZ
106 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 12/1/10
Posts: 14
i read mmapayout and bloodyelbow to.
12/11/10 12:43 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
randysan
1 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 2/14/08
Posts: 983
The problem is now that if you want to advertise in the UFC you have to pay the UFC a HUGE chunk of money before you are even able to sponsor 1 fighter. A company would have to make big big money to even be able to sponsor. This makes for way less sponsors and less ways to make money for fighters. The UFC's greed really hurts the less known undercard fighters chances to make alot of money from sponsors. This policy has bankrupted a few businesses that thought they could afford it as well. Only the big companies can survive and I have a feeling new ones like Headrush will go down, too many people thing mma gear is weak!!
12/11/10 1:04 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
TigerMuayThai
10 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 5/2/03
Posts: 396
Good insight.
12/11/10 1:13 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
standupwarrior
9 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 11/14/08
Posts: 607
"If your agent is on the mma news more than you be worried."

+ 1
12/11/10 1:30 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Steve4192
213 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 6/1/07
Posts: 4955
I assume this post was inspired by the MMAPayout article on sponsorship policies (since it discusses the same topic and also uses the 'ambush' terminology). It's a good read, and I completely agree with both Magnetic and the author.

http://mmapayout.com/2010/12/ufc-sponsorship-policies-hurting-fighters/

The current sponsorship model in MMA cannot last. It is incredibly inefficient and delivers very little value to the companies who are only interested in TV time. If all you are interested in is TV time, then why even bother sponsoring the fighters when you can sponsor the UFC directly? Sponsors need to move away from ambush marketing and find ways to monetize their relationships with fighters outside of the Octagon.
12/11/10 1:41 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
camozzi
697 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 2/9/09
Posts: 210
 Great read Jason. I understand what your saying being on the undercard of a few UFC events now its hard to get sponsors to step up.
12/11/10 1:43 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Kirik
1629 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 42307
Mixed Martial Arts LLC, President
 ttt
12/11/10 2:53 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Shane Carwin
105 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 12/11/10 2:56 PM
Member Since: 10/11/06
Posts: 883
HITMANDANDIAZ - i read mmapayout and bloodyelbow to.

He posted this over a year ago. I read the mmapayout piece and felt that this needed to be TTT'd.

Reply Post

You must log in to post a reply. Click here to login.