Boxing’s Fight to Stay Relevant

With one of the greatest match-ups in boxing history… is the sport thriving or dying?

16788413705_1fc9d28e9c_oAs Floyd Mayweather Jr. continues to celebrate his victory against Manny Pacquiao, astronomical sales figures for the “Fight of the Century” are still being calculated. It’s estimated at least 5.23 million people ordered the $100 event through pay-per-view. Tickets to watch the fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas were selling for $1,500 to $500,000. Astronauts onboard the International Space Station even got a chance to view the match.

It’s going to be a once in a lifetime type of fight, and I’m going to be there just for the event of it all. Growing up loving sports, to be in a position where I can go to this type of event… it’s just wonderful.” -Tony Buzbee, an attorney who paid $74,000 for a pair of 12th-row seats

There has been a strong demand for Mayweather and Pacquiao to face off for years, but did they fulfill those wishes for the right reasons?

Mayweather didn’t waste any time showing off his first check worth $100 million. The fight also didn’t live Floyd_Mayweather,_Jr._vs._Juan_Manuel_Márquezup to the hype. Some say it was boring. It lasted less than an hour, and there were only a combined 229 punches. It doesn’t help that it was later revealed that Pacquiao was fighting with an injured shoulder.

Although the “Super Bowl” of fighting is over and it’s difficult to pinpoint what to look forward to next, boxing is certainly not dead. It’s a niche sport. Adam Wells with Bleacher Report points out the fight was only dull to people who occasionally jump on the bandwagon:

But this wasn’t so much a boring fight as a Floyd Mayweather fight, and you can label it dull if you wish, rail that he just doesn’t excite the masses with the offense everyone craves, but this is exactly what was likely to happen.”

Boxing will never be as appealing as the National Football League and the National Basketball Association. Despite Mike Tyson telling aspiring boxers to “Go to MMA,” boxing continues to show signs of growth.

Darren Rovell with EPSN points out boxing has delivered from both a revenue and time-filling standpoint as sports rights fees skyrocket. Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president of Showtime Sports and Event Programming, has this philosophy:

Millions of people in this country watch one fight a year. But if they have a really good experience, we believe they’ll watch two or three.”

Earlier this year, NBC and SpikeTV agreed to carry certain matches in primetime and on Saturday afternoons over the next several years. CBS also signed a multi-year contract to air at least eight Saturday events between April and September.

Boxing is thriving. The sport is just not on everyone’s radar until big matches pop up, like Mayweather vs.  Pacquiao, which help make up for lost time when they generate a projected record $400 million.

Safely Playing the Social Media Game

Social media is a difficult game to play. There are very little rules, the boundaries are barely visible, and you rarely know your opponents. It doesn’t matter how fast they run, athletes can’t get away from social media.

It’s a dialogue, not a monologue, and some people don’t understand that. Social media is more like a telephone than a television.” -Amy Jo Martin

7910370882_e2d8bfd3b4_oIt’s an unspoken requirement for athletes to manage a presence on multiple social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. According to Kevin DeShazo with Fieldhouse Media, the goal is to be yourself, engaging, and interactive.

Social media can allow fans to build personal connections with their idols, which leads to better ticket sales, sponsorships, and fundraising. According to a 2011 study, sport spectators are 55% more likely to purchase a product if it has been tweeted or written about on social media by one of their favorite athletes.

Athletes have to stay at the top of their game. Social media can be very rewarding, but it can also ruin a career with just one post going viral in a matter of seconds. DeShazo told student reporters at Oklahoma State University that says most professionals don’t understand social media’s power and reach. He suggests they keep in mind that each post resembles holding a news conference. The golden rule: think before hitting send.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel accidentally tweeted his cell phone number to Johnny_Manziel_in_Kyle_Fieldmore than a million followers last October. He claims he thought he was sending his digits in a direct message.

Former San Diego Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie was fined $2,500 in August 2009 for blaming “nasty food” from keeping the Bolts from the making it to the Super Bowl.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall sent out a series of tweets after American troops killed Osama bin Laden in 2011. After scolding users for celebrating the terrorist leader’s death, Champion dropped its sponsorship deal with Mendenhall.

Location, location, location. Athletes will unknowingly give out their location because the location services on their phone is enabled. A word from the wise: don’t tweet until the event is over and you’ve left.

It’s crucial for a sport organization to closely monitor all social media accounts affiliated with its brand. Educating athletes is the first step in preventing a mistake that could come with harsh repercussions. Darren Rovell’s “100 Twitter Rules to Live By” is a great launching pad.

8 Ideas for Winning with Sports

Attention. Select. Recall. Reoccur. Not every sponsorship is a home run or touchdown. It takes an incredible amount of brainstorming, crafting, and evaluating to walk away with a win.

What is the key to success? IEG, a leading organization in sponsorship analysis, insight, valuation, and measurement, says it’s pairing innovation and sport.

Sport offers a substantial and sustainable opportunity to out- innovate competitors by connecting audiences to the things they love on an immeasurable scale. And in ways they never knew were possible.”

mml-logo-flatIEG has developed eight ways to successfully turn sports assets into value-enhancing, consumer- focused ideas. It starts with finding emotion by viewing audiences as people, not demographics, and developing a relationship. NCAA realizes even die-hard basketball fans cannot sit around for two weeks watching continuous March Madness coverage. But they can watch almost every game through the March Madness Live streaming service or apps for iOS, Android, Kindle, and Windows devices. The accessibility allows fans to carry on with their lives, like going to the mall with family, without missing a play.

Values now count as much as value, according to IEG. Purpose is one of the new 4Ps of marketing; build race+against+cancer+web+logoservice into every sponsorship. Subway has signed on as the new title sponsor of Covenant Health’s “Race Against Cancer” in Knoxville. John Dell, a local franchise owner and development agent for East Tennessee explains:

All Subway restaurants are locally owned and operated, so it’s important to us to support organizations that are working to improve the quality of life for members of our community.”

Create great content; bring something new and better to the fan experience. More than 80 teams are engaging fans with in-stadium interactive displays. The feature allows them to use their phone to “have a deeper conversation with their favorite teams, athletes, sponsors, and fellow fans” with “access to exclusive content, promotions, and giveaways,” according to Chantal Tode with Mobile Marketer.


Participation in a sponsorship can promote brands and magnify the marketing value. Southwest Airlines used a Doritos commercial that aired during the Super Bowl to its advantage with this tweet:

Consumers are human. Great stories draw them in and keep their attention. As IEG says, “Every touch point is an opportunity to prove who you are.” Consider the Budweiser commercials that air each year during the Super Bowl featuring the clydesdales and Golden Retriever. The storyline is relatable and emotional, which captivates millions of viewers. This year’s theme was titled “Lost Dog” with an emphasis on #BestBuds.

 

Companies must stay one step ahead: be relevant, be agile, be fast. Launch small ideas and quickly move on. It’s easy to be pushed out of mind, so create memorable moments that give the world something they can’t stop talking about. Remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? Nike tweeted a staged photo of a coin toss that that went viral during the CFP National Championship in January.

Measure what matters, not what’s easy to count. According to IEG, reach and media equivalencies “fail to reveal whether or not a partnership is building market share, brand value, or shareholder value.” Remember to concentrate on outcomes over outputs.

Balance the portfolio to “reveal both conflicting images that dilute brand impact, as well as overlapping strengths and weaknesses.” Visa uses its sponsorships to communicate its credit/debit card payment service is “everywhere you want to be.” From the FIFA World Cup to the Olympics Games, each event plays a different role in the pursuit of fulfilling objectives.