Thursday, 23 April 2015

Marketing the biggest fight of the century

When Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao face off on the 2nd of May, it will go down as the biggest fight of the century. Not since the legendary “Rumble in the Jungle” where Mohammad Ali beat George Forman has a fight been more anticipated.

The on-off saga between the two fighters has lasted over five years, but finally we are about to see a boxing spectacle between two of the undisputed all time greats. This fight will likely go down as the highest grossing boxing event in history.

What makes this super fight so special is that it almost never happened. Major issues have arisen in the negotiations between the two camps for drug testing, the venue for the bout and the fighter’s split of purse. But one of the biggest stumbling blocks has been the marketing of this blockbuster event.

Source: HBOboxing Twitter

While Mayweather was signed to an exclusive multi million dollar PPV deal with TV broadcaster Showtime, his opponent Pacquiao held an exclusive deal with cable rivals HBO. After lengthy negotiations, the two parties were able to reach an agreement to finally make the fight happen. With two networks promoting the fight, it will be interesting to see how the marketing differs for the two boxers who are backed by the different parent companies, CBS and Time Warner. 

Not only is the self-professed promoter Floyd Mayweather the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, but he is also a marketing genius. His flamboyant spending and egotistical personality have helped to define his brand, “The Money Team”. Through his outlandish behaviour, he has become one of the best self-marketers not just in boxing, but also in all of sport. No wonder last year he was named the highest paid athlete in the world.

In contrast, Manny Pacquiao couldn’t be more different to his ultra-cocky opponent. From his humble upbringing in the Philippines, he has developed a reputation as being a generous philanthropist and ambassador for his home country. In 2010, Pacquiao was even elected to a congress position in the Philippine House of Representatives. No slouch, himself the PacMan comes in at number 11 on the Forbes list of highest paid athletes.

In the world of boxing branding is big business. This goes beyond simply name recognition of a fighter, but what they stand for in the eyes of their fans and critics. I think both men promise an all-action big time event that will be unlike anything we have ever seen before.

I, for one, can’t wait for this fight. But what I am most looking forward to is seeing how the two fighters position themselves with the support of their cable network backers.

Robert Brunning
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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