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Thursday, 15 September 2011

Where Sports Marketing has worked

This weekend sees Boxing’s Cash cow Floyd Mayweather step back into the ring for the first time in a while - to take on former future Golden Boy - Victor Ortiz.  A loss stalled Ortiz’ rise, but Mayweather’s appeal will undoubtedly drove audience numbers - though the result is likely to be similar to the rest of the bouts on his record.
Everyone is waiting of course for the fight of the Millennium (certainly from a cash point of view) - will Floyd ever take on Manny Pacquaio.
This weekend sadly though is a bump in the current shift away from boxing.

UFC - as the lead brand in MMA - has really done a great job in building itself as the #1 ‘fight’ brand now.  Big numbers for PPV, Tv deals, audience - are all making MMA more relevant that boxing in today’s society.
Where did it all go wrong for Boxing??  [NOTE - as I say above, big receipts likely this weekend, and Mayweather vs Pacquaio could break records across all sports - so it’s not totally “wrong”).
Boxing promotion for the past 10 (maybe more) years has just not been up to the mark.  The bright new technologies, the new communication channels, the way we lead our lives - have by and large - left Boxing stuck in first gear.
Life in the 21st Century can change pretty quickly - and boxing promoters just have not delivered.  A disjointed “ownership” structure - with too many different governing bodies, poor clarity in the marketplace over who actually is the best, and the lack of major stars are also of course dragging the sport sideways at best.
Meanwhile, the UFC have a plan, have a detailed strategy, have ownership and management who know what they want and how they are going to deliver - and actually have serious marketing efforts to deliver on these goals.
Boxing’s cultural advantages (bigger sport, longer history, bigger starting audience) have been eroded away - such that recovery is going to be really tough to deliver.
However - UFC’s success shows that sports marketing does work - and Boxing just needs to follow suit....
  • Get Organized and get a meaningful plan - to compete - to build growth.  Governing bodies need to come together / be disbanded / be replaced - we need to give certainty to the customer - what is the product they are buying - who are the champions that they want to see - who are the up and comers
  • Put plan not action - more big fights more often - planned out to fit into customer’s social lives and calendars. Fitting into host site plans - an annual event calendar would be good to know.  The recent Super 6 was a start - why can’t this be annual, in each weight category, sponsored, with huge TV ratings....  If this means we need to change the way people think about boxers records - so that the number f Super 6 championships (of whatever catchy name we come up with) is more important than historical Win vs Losses...
  • More heroes - build up fighters to inspire the public.  The heavyweight division is struggling - so focus elsewhere.  Pacqauio and Mayweather are two of the biggest stars of the sport of all time - let’s get more out of them.  let’s build up their competitors / their replacements.
  • Drag the sport into the 21st Century.  To start with learn quickly from those that are doing a  good job - UFC, NHL social media, MLS attendance growth, NFL corporate maximization.  Once we are back at the table - then start to innovate, start to lead.  Boxing has some USP’s - the one off events that no other sport can deliver - use these and become a leader in sports.
Unless there is quick and effective action - the sport of boxing may already have lost the hearts and minds of future fans to UFC - the #1 sport at the moment that understands what is required to grow in today’s society.
Come on Boxing - time to throw some punches of your own.

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