Official Blog

marketing

C

The House is gearing up for a battle over spending taxpayers money on sports sponsorship.  The focus is on NASCAR but you cannot cut NASCAR without affecting all sports.  The UFC recently inked a deal with the US Marines and many Mixed Martial Artists (“MMA”) have been sponsored by Military divisions.  If the measure passes these expenditures would cease.

Republicans are divided over topics that usually unite them (spending cuts, military and NASCAR) and the Democrats are excited to have the distraction.  At the heart of the battle is the $80 million dollars spent on sports sponsorships and the return on that investment.   The proponents say $20 million a race is way too much.  While supporters of the sponsorship programs, like Army National Guard Director Lt. Gen. William Ingram Jr. say “the program is effective. “  Without the draft, the Military needs to find ways to reach their target demographic.

There is no question that the Military’s target demographic is watching NASCAR and UFC type events.  The in-content exposure is valuable and hard to miss.  When marquee brands like Nike are cutting TV and Print spending by 40% in favor of Team and Event sponsorships it seems like an odd move by the House to pressure the Military in exactly the opposite direction.

As the US Marines learned with their UFC deal, there are other valuable sports properties that allow the Military to reach its target demographic and not spend $20 million per event.  The model in play with the UFC makes a ton of sense for The Marines.  The Marines are getting in-content branding on the most sought after sports property around.  They get interaction with the athletes, digital placement on the UFC’s website and more.

Unlike NASCAR or other sports like Bull Riding, MMA also opens the door to real engagements with the target demographic. This engagement can go well beyond the recruiting phase too.  We all have seen the UFC and Marine marketing program.  The House should be looking at ways to get more for the expenditures.  Ideas like:

  • MMA Athletes showing up during Basic Training to help during Combatives Training.

  • Military discounts on Merchandise and Tickets.

  • Armed Forces MMA Team – While on Active Duty the ability to train and compete at the amateur level (like they do with other sports like Boxing and Wrestling).

  • Veterans that were on the Armed Forces Team get immediate entry into TUF and their Pro card is paid for, in return they continue to represent their Branch of service.  Guys like Brian Stann should be a sponsored athlete and a part of a program that helps transition the soldier athlete to a professional athlete.

  • Lifetime free entry in signature events like Grapplers Quest and NAGA for active Military and Veterans.

Ideas like those will only enhance the ROI.  From a MMA perspective the price the Military allegedly spends on one race would fund all of the above programs for several years.  Every service member will learn some form of hand to hand combat during their enlistment.  There is no reason not to offer MMA as a Team Sport on the bases.  The opportunity to enhance the return on investment has never been better.

The House needs to realize that it is less about how much they spend and more about how they spend it.  If NASCAR has become too expensive then find other sport properties that reach the same demographic.  If you can find sports like MMA that weave into the basic structure of current Military life then you can find others.  You don’t have to spend $20,000,000 per race to reach your target demographic.  You don’t have to kill off your marketing plans because one part of the plan has become too expensive.  Just replace it.  The sport of Mixed Martial Arts would welcome this budget and the branding would be dominant and active 24/7 like our Military.


Turner Broadcasting To Buy BleacherReport.com

Money to Burn

Turner Broadcasting Systems (TBS) is rumored to be in talks to buy BleacherReport.com for $200 million. The two companies are not commenting but sources close to deal, including the website AllThingsD, are reporting that the framework of the deal is in place and due-diligence has begun.

The Bleacher Report raised $40 million in venture capital since its inception in 2007. The site is primarily made up of user-generated content. It’s the user-generated content that has Bleachers Reports competitors crying foul, saying the sites contributors borrow content already released. The argument is weak. Twitter breaks news about 15 minutes ahead of the AP. Social networks are the hub of user generated content. YouTube was full of user generated videos when it was bought for billions.

Bleacher Report has done a great job at adding relevant content at a rapid rate. The contributors have helped propel Bleacher Report to over 9 million uniques per month. In 2010 the company generated an estimated $5 million in revenue. The year over year growth has slowed a bit to an estimated 8% from 2010 to 2011. In 2011 the company hired Rich Calacci away from CBS Interactive and he transformed the sales almost instantly. His team is on pace to bring in over $30 million in ad revenue from partners such as Red Bull, Muscle Milk, Pizza Hut and more.

Bleacher Report is selling at a premium, even for a sports based platform. Compare the potential sale to AOL’s purchase of HuffingtonPost.com for $315 million. At the time of the sale to AOL it had 25 million uniques per month and was doing just over $30 million in revenue. The Huffington Post was considered a prestigious website with real reporters and it’s user generated content is generally contributed by celebrities.

Many are asking why TBS is being so aggressive with its valuation of the Bleacher Report. TBS will likely use its vast resources to enhance the BleacherReport.com traffic. There is no question that TBS is seeking to replace the over 9 million unique visitors its ad network lost when they lost Sports Illustrated this spring. TBS is also losing PGA.com at the end of 2012. Bleacher Report saw its competitor MMAJunkie.com and Big Lead Sports’ sales to USA Today Sports Media Group. Leaving Bleacher Report as the only independent website on ComScore’s top 10.

We see a trend in journalism. The barrier to entry has never been lower. User generated content is the fuel for the World Wide Web. We have operated a user generated fan driven content website for years. We were punished by a major movie studio for most of those years until last year they announced they were launching their own user-generated content fan site.

The new online media properties seem to tout their in house publishing technologies almost as much as the content they produce. Bleacher Report is not the only user generated sports platform. Vox Media, a venture-backed startup, operates the SB Nation sports blog network

Add up the pieces – revenue potential, the loss of Sports Illustrated web traffic, PGA.com relationship coming to an end, a powerful publishing platform, and a core base of passionate contributors and the deal starts to make more sense for Turner than it might at first look.


Fight School

SchoolHouse

Last night’s UFC on FX 4 main event was everything that the major brands want to avoid. There is not a lot of control during a fight. If a guy bites another guy’s ear off the world will be watching. If a guy flips off his opponent a few times on FX, the world will be watching.

The Marketing VP that tells me the sport is too violent and the athletes are too unpredictable was just proven right. The Marketing VP that was taking a “wait and see approach” is going to wait a little bit longer. It is bad enough that we have a champion calling on the Major Brands and a few weeks later show up on TMZ arrested for a DUI single car accident with women that are not his fiancee.

The baseline of this sport should be that it is a form of Martial Arts. You can promote a fight without tarnishing your brand or the value of the guy you are fighting. What did James Tooney call Randy Couture? Then Randy beat him up. So what does that make James? Trash talk is not about taking away from the athletes that compete, discounting those around you. It is about promoting yourself, building your brand and following.

Gray Maynard flipping off Clay Guida is about as far away from being a Martial Artist as you can get. In today’s connected world you cannot say you are one thing and be another. If you are the main event on a televised fight you need to carry yourself accordingly. There is a fine line between promoting a fight and losing your cool. The UFC releases athletes for sending stupid or inappropriate jokes on Twitter but is silent when a fight looks more like an episode of Jersey Shore than a UFC Main Event. The UFC should hand down some serious sanctions for this behavior, and FX should hand the UFC some serious sanctions.

Who is managing these athletes? Where is the training and education of what it means to build your own brand and respect the brand platforms that you are leveraging to build yours? Talking about Coors Light while standing on a Bud Light logo, getting DUI’s, flipping the bird on National TV, and ‘motorboating’ female journalists all hurt the sport’s growth potential. Anderson Silva is reportedly being paid $250,000 to work with Burger King in Brazil. How many Burger Kings are in Brazil vs the US? Yet there are no reports of any mainstream deals of this size for any US based Mixed Martial Artist. I can almost assure you that there won’t be anytime soon if our high profile athletes keep acting the way they are acting in and outside of the Octagon.

There will be enough people that will trash or try to diminish the opponents you face. Your role as a Martial Artist is to respect the sport and your opponents and to train hard to give yourself every advantage possible to win. The way you carry yourself will affect your earnings and the earnings of those that come after you. What do you want your legacy to be?


Seven Years Into the MMA Boom and The 18-35 Male is Seven Years Older

There has been a lot of talk about The Ultimate Fighter show and a lot of it has been kind of negative. If you look at the series with less angry eyes you will see that any show that can last 16 seasons is a successful series. NBC’s ‘Cheer’s’, one of the most successful series ever, ran 11 seasons. “The Ultimate Fighter’ (“TUF”) first aired in 2005 and is on its 7th year of being on Television going on its 16th season in the US and 2nd season Internationally. The show is now growing internationaly, in its second season in Brazil.

This got me thinking, many say the first season of TUF triggered the explosive growth that led many to claim MMA is one of the fastest growing sports in the US.. TUF and other UFC Televised fights were rating successes in the male 18-35 demographic. Marketers are still talking about how MMA is a hit with males 18-35 and by all indications growing in popularity amongst females in the same demographic. This is what the advertisers are focused on. This valuable demographic has a history of being “elusive” and has been since the early 2000’s. But it’s been seven years since the Boom of MMA, the ’18-35′ of 2005 is now ’25-42′. Who is focusing on the 25-42M demographic that helped kick start this sport? Or for that matter the early adopters of the sport: the 30-55 Male?

As the sport matures and the fan base increases within the core demographic, brands should not lose sight of the fans that helped create the early iconic brands of the sport. As we age (yeah I am one of them) so do our tastes. However we still like a lot of the same things we used to like. Most of us are passionate about the sport and that passion stands the test of time. We are the demographic that gave this sport its legs and made sure it was able to run.

Look no further than the American Express retirement commercials from the late 90’s and today to see how sophisticated brands are shifting their message. They have gone from showing gray haired grandparents quietly puttering in their flower gardens to ‘salt and pepper’ youthful looking, yet older people out in the world on adventures with sky diving, snorkeling and enjoying their retired life. American Express knows that different generations age differently and wish to be advertised to differently.

I recently turned 40 and I do not think I would wear many of the current MMA brands myself. I like my tee shirts and Chuck Taylors like most guys my age, but no foil, wings or skulls with swords in the eye sockets are going to look right at my kids parent teacher conference.

The MMA specific brands need to remember the people that bought the products that built 100 million dollar companies are getting older and we still have money to spend if you want to make products we can use. For every core demographic there are secondary demographics of younger and older fans. One thing that can’t be ignored is that these fans are getting older as the sport matures and branding and message should be adjusted to continue to reach them.

Below you will find a pretty interesting infographic that shows the habits of the Generation Y or Millennium Generation. Let us know if you agree or disagree.

Jason Genet


Content is not King

In the Media world the saying goes “Content is King”. The idea is: build it and they will come. Yet the kings of content, the movie studios, lose huge sums on most projects. Why? If asked most successful business people they will tell you success is a blend of hard work, luck, and controlling the controllables. Movie studios are well run corporate machines, their workers work hard, and management controls what it can. But they’ve lost control of distribution. At one time, movie distribution meant one thing: movie theaters. Own the theaters, and you control distribution. No longer. The battle is what happens with the content once it is released.

Distribution has never been so easy and the trends in technology suggest it’s going to get even easier. But across the world, content creators are filing for bankruptcy. And it’s not just movie studios, all content creators are struggling. The content creation business under assault from all quarters.

Two industries were the big winners in the Dot Com Boom and Bust. Porn and Gambling made huge sums and increased their market share while others floundered. Today, the Gambling companies have largely been shut down by the US Government and Porn is having to reinvent itself. Lack of control over their content has pretty much destroyed the Adult Industry. And you would be hard pressed to find anyone on Capitol Hill pushing for Piracy law revision for them.

You used to hear adult film stars say porn was a vehicle to launch a mainstream career and some of them actually accomplished that goal. Today most performers use the industry to subsidize their income. It is well known that many in the adult industry now derive their income from hooking and use their porn exposure simply as advertising.

Female performers have seen the pay decrease from around $3000 a scene (naughty time) now earn closer to $650 per scene (still good money if you are doing what you love). The male performers now earn about $150 per scene (I know some of you are saying where do I sign). The decrease in earnings is a direct result of the piracy, ease of distribution (DIY), and the low barrier of entry that allowed for mass-quantity and low quality films that flood the net. Yet the amount of Adult Production studios has gone from the hundred to just a few remaining production companies.

The adult industry business is on the verge of extinction. The blame? The same thing that gave the industry it’s prolific rise, The Internet. The Internet makes controlling content next to impossible. Even mainstream creators of content are struggling. The advertisers that pay for some of the content creation are struggling. The non-internet based distribution platforms tap into the Internet and give the target consumer the ability to buy the content and watch it when they want without commercial interruption. Devices like Boxee, Ruku, Apple TV and others allows the target consumer to stream the content they want when they want it.

Choices, on top of choices: you do not just have the ability to watch it when you want or how you want, you can also watch what you want. You prefer BBC to CBS? No trip to England required. Want to see a guy do the Cinnamon Challenge? Content creation and distribution is cheaper and easier than ever before. There are 60 hours videos uploaded every minute on YouTube alone. There is more content added to the Internet in a day than the average person will be able to consume in a lifetime. And the trend is accelerating.

What we can learn from the changes is that control is king. If your content becomes a part of a Peer to Peer (P2P) platform. If you cannot control and protect where it goes or get paid when it goes you lose.

A decent digital video camera costs under $150.00. Most Televisions sold today, come with the ability to watch YouTube and other user generated content. Most cell phones, tablets and computers come with the ability to shoot, edit and upload content.

Those numbers are a fraction of the budgets of the major production studios. Lionsgate who by all accounts is considered to have “modest” production budgets, is spending $80 million to make ‘The Hunger Game’ movie series (just over $15M per movie). While most would view a $15 million dollar investment that has already returned over $400 million a wise investment. When you are up against the commoditization of content it only takes a few misplaced $15 million dollar projects to sink a company.

So the creators are finding creative ways to protect themselves. You don’t have to look much farther then the UFC to see how creators of content are using both new and traditional ways to distribute their media. The parent company Zuffa, is a leader the legal fight to fight piracy or control where their content ends up.

Lionsgate pre-sold ‘The Hunger Games’ international film rights before the film was finished. Many view this as a risky venture, surely they could have got more based on the success of the movie right? Wrong, there is even less control in the International market. It is better to lock in a set amount Vs. running the risk of not ever really knowing what you made. The success of the first movie will drive up the International pre-sales in the future. Plus do not forget the global merchandise opportunities that come from a successful project like ‘The Hunger Games”. Building on the Hunger Games success, Lionsgate, through acquisitions, built a library with over 13,000 titles — which generates $150 million in annual cash flow.

Lionsgate will continue to produce content for the various platforms that the consumers are gravitating towards. Yet, to truly control the content you need to own the platform and be able to monetize the platform. Just look at the adult industry and the lack of control of the platforms used to distribute their content. They have zero control and their industry is dying. The barrier of entry has become non-existent. They are not using 3-D (most are not), 15 million dollar budgets or best selling books to help sell their content. Bottom line, Control is king.

Jason Genet


Facebook Changes and How They Affect Things You Like

facebook_logo

If you have been following the Ingrained Media or have been following Facebook news that is not IPO related then this may not be news to you. However, if you have not read our Facebook blogs then now would be a good time. The one thing that seems to be certain about Social Media, is that the networks seem to come and go.

Despite knowing this information, these facts never seem to stop the major brands from pouring tons of money into building brand value on networks that have limited lifespans and that they do not own. The good news for these brands is that spending money to promote your Facebook page just became a requirement. The news coming from Facebook is that reach is more important than Likes. They are no longer pushing your content to those that like your page. Users will have to find your your page and check it or, and this would make the Shareholders happy, you can now promote your message. That is right, if you think your message needs to reach the people who like you, Facebook has provided you the ability to promote that message, for a fee. Yes, you have to pay to do this and the amounts that you will pay and the amount of people you can actually reach, all vary by the actions of those who follow you.

Yes, that means that Facebook is requiring users to be social. For the lurker you either search out the content, subscribe (which is getting harder to do) or hope the brand will pay to push the message to you, if you are not interacting you will not see the post. Facebook wants Brands pay to promote their message and thus increasing a brand’s exposure and decreasing the value for the visitor the Brand is desperately trying to reach or connect with.

Here at Ingrained Media we have been saying this for the last few years. Reach is the most important factor on Social Media. If Brands were running analytics they would have already seen that their actual reach vs the amount of people who follow or like is extremely low. Unless the Brand is engaging with the followers and providing unique content the actual reach has limited and return on investment is low. Paying to promote Tweets or FB messages can be effective but if you are not extracting the relationships then I see no value.

Pretty much every television commercial or print ad has the Brand’s Facebook page. The Brands are paying money to tell people about Facebook or Twitter. They are asking the consumers to follow them (some are) but now Facebook is telling you that you have to pay to reach them. So for those brands that have millions of Likes that were created by contests, unique content, engaging with the fans or followers or by the commercials promoting the brand’s Facebook channel, you now have to pay to communicate. Sure the user signed up and said let’s engage but Facebook wants to be paid for that. If Sally the home baker with just over 1,000 friends wants to tell everyone of them about her home bake sale on her Fan Page she will have to pay.

Social Media was supposed to be this great equalizer, right? Yet the big brands have the big numbers and mom and pop still have the smaller number of fans or followers. What exactly is Social Media then? It is an indicator that people like to connect with like minded people on the net. This is not anything new, but the Brands continue to look for some magical solution to connect and engage with the consumers. They want to build brand loyalty and reach their target consumer. The consumer has become more elusive and advertising to them is less about see my brand and more about connect with my brand. For the small to medium size businesses Facebook ads would be a better solution vs paying to promote to people who may or may not be engaging with you.

Connections are lasting engagements. If that is the true goal why in the world would you spend any money to build these engagements on platforms that you do not own, control, or fully understand? Those that were successful and played a role in building Facebook’s almost billion users, they would like to thank us by charging us to communicate our message. No thanks.

Brands need to be looking at these social media platforms like ripe hunting grounds. They can be a great source of things you need but they do not last forever. Make sure that you are investing in building your own platform and use Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest and any of the other popular social networks to target your potential consumer and extract them to your own platform. Invest in building great content on your own platform and use these third party social aggregators to identify the people you want to reach, pay to tell them about your network. A place where they can come and hang out with other like minded users. Think of it like a virtual rewards program. If it is worth doing it is worth owning. By building this platform you can control the controllables and your investment into your own social media content.

For some of you that might not be feasible, maybe you have limited resources or time. Maybe you are a small business or a local brick and mortar. My initial reaction would be if you fall into this category then do you really need a Facebook page for your business? Just because the brands you know are doing it doesn’t make it right (as we mentioned above) and even if it was effective for Wal Mart why would you assume that it will work for you? Could you service 1% of Facebook’s members if they decided to purchase from you? Of the almost billion users of Facebook how many of them would actually be your customer? You could still have your own social community but if you were not interested in that approach then you should be looking into Geo Social solutions. Such as Yelp, Fourquare etc.. These networks are much more community based and your time spent connecting on them will have a direct impact on your business.

If you are a Fan of pages and want to have the content pushed to you, there are a few things you need to “try” and do. I use the word try because Facebook has been doing different things for different users a lot more frequently. This means you may not see the promote button or be able to subscribe to a page. Here are some tips:

1. Find a page you’ve “liked.”
2. Hover you mouse over the “Liked” button. Which may or may not work.
3. Try clicking the “Liked” button. That also may or may not work.
4. After clicking “Liked,” try hovering over it again. This may or may not work.
(Sensing a theme? Access isn’t consistent…nor intended to be easy, I have a feeling. Please keep trying.)
5. Once you (finally) get a drop down menu, confirm “Show in News Feed” is selected. In theory, this should put all more posts from the page back in your newsfeed.

Even doing the steps above won’t guarantee that you get to see what your favorite brand or celebrity post on their page. The new Facebook algorithm is designed to push content to those that are truly interacting with the brand. Liking the page is not a “true interaction”, subscribing to the page will not be a “true request”, Facebook’s algorithm will determine what you see on your page no matter what you ask for or request. If you are a Facebook lurker and do not interact with the page you will not get the feed on your timeline. Unless the owners of the page pay Facebook to feed you the post. So ultimately the brands will have to pay to inform you or you will be required to interact with the page to get the information automatically.

The saddest part of these changes is that they are not ways to increase the value of the community but to increase the value of the company. Facebook has to answer to its shareholders and is expected to earn money and show that it can be a viable business. Up until this point the money had been made off the traffic. Now the traffic will have to participate and the brands that helped create that traffic will have to pay to communicate.

Jason Genet
CEO of Ingrained Media


K-Swiss Taps Out of MMA

K-Swiss the parent company of Form is exiting the Mixed Martial Arts landscape. Form was one of the few companies that had a true endorsement model and activated around the athletes and sport.  According to the companies Edgar filings they bought Form in 2010 for $1.6 million and lost about $3.7 million before tapping out.

From their public filing:

13. Form Athletics
On July 23, 2010, the Company entered into a Membership Interest Purchase Agreement (“Purchase Agreement”) with Form Athletics, LLC (“Form Athletics”) and its Members to purchase Form Athletics for $1,600,000 in cash. Form Athletics was established in January 2010 to design, develop and distribute apparel for mixed martial arts under the Form Athletics brand worldwide. The purchase of Form Athletics was part of an overall strategy to enter the action sports market, however, during the third quarter of 2011, the Company decided to no longer pursue operating in this line of business, as discussed below. Operations of Form Athletics have been accounted for and presented as a discontinued operation in the accompanying Consolidated Financial Statements.

Pursuant to the Purchase Agreement, the Company was obligated to pay additional cash consideration to certain Members of Form Athletics in an amount equal to Form Athletics’ EBITDA for the twelve months ended December 31, 2012 (“Form CPP”). The purchase price of $1,600,000 and the net present value of the initial estimate of the Form CPP was capitalized. The fair value of the Form CPP was determined each quarter based on the net present value of the current quarter’s projection of Form Athletics’ EBITDA for the twelve months ended December 31, 2012. Any subsequent changes to the Form CPP was recognized as interest income or interest expense during the applicable quarter.

The acquisition of Form Athletics was recorded as a 100% purchase and the Form CPP liability was recognized and accordingly, the results of operations of the acquired business were included in the Company’s Consolidated Financial Statements from the date of acquisition. A trademark asset totaling $3,150,000 and goodwill of $539,000, were recognized for the amount of the excess purchase price paid over fair market value of the net assets acquired. The amount of goodwill that was deductible for tax purposes was $507,000 and will be amortized over 15 years.

At July 23, 2010, the acquired assets and liabilities assumed in the purchase of Form Athletics was as follows (in thousands):

Balance at
July 23, 2010
Inventories

$ 39
Intangible assets

3,689

Total assets

$ 3,728

Current liabilities

$ 18
Form CPP

2,110

Total liabilities

2,128
Contribution by K•Swiss Inc.

1,600

Total stockholders’ equity

1,600

Total liabilities and stockholders’ equity

$ 3,728

Since Form Athletics began operating in early 2010, operating results prior to the Company’s purchase of Form Athletics were not significant and pro forma information was not materially different than what was reported on the Company’s Consolidated Financial Statements.

14
During the second quarter of 2011, after a review of sales, backlog, cash flows and marketing strategy, the Company determined that its investment in the Form Athletics goodwill and trademark was impaired and recognized impairment losses of $3,689,000 (see Note 5) and reversed the Form CPP liability of $2,110,000, which was recognized as interest income.


Where Is the Brand Activation for Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos Sponsors?

UFC on Fox Sponsorship Activation Non-Existent Leading Into Their UFC Heavyweight Championship Bout

We keep waiting and waiting but it never comes.  This next weekend marks one of the biggest events in Mixed Martial Arts history and yet there is little to no activation.  Since it is obvious that most of the MMA industry does not seem to understand what that word means, here is a brief description:

“Activation includes events, promotions, retail display, outdoor, digital, CRM (customer relationship management), direct, and other such services.”

Why have these athletes and their agencies missed the boat?  Is it because the UFC  has strict guidelines against any ambush marketing for this Fox debut?  Or have the managers of Dos Santos and Velasquez failed at executing on this tremendous opportunity?Even the brands that have been supporting Cain Velasquez from the start of his career, before his fame and before the championship belt have not made the push to connect their brand to the upcoming event.  Aren’t they hoping that the wider reach will sell more shirts?  Is this not the opportunity of a lifetime for Dethrone?  They invested heavily into Cain and having Cain at the forefront of their marketing long before he was a star.  Shouldn’t they be connecting the dots?I know it is a bad economy.  That excuse only flies here in the United States.  The UFC and Cain’s management have gone to great lengths to sell Cain as a Hispanic fighter (even ignoring the fact that he was born in the US) yet where are the Hispanic brands?  There was no housing bust in Mexico.  As a matter of fact a lot of the money from the housing boom here in the US was sent back to Mexico.  So where are the Mexican brands?

The endemic brands are not taking credit or touting the investment made and their success of that investment and the non-endemic brands that have signed on are not activating leading up to this historical event.  Why not?  What am I missing?  Is this not a dream come true?

Look at how well Anderson Silva is doing in his home country of Brazil.  He is landing marquee deals with Nike and Burger King.  Junior is a very likable and marketable guy, especially in Brazil.  Both Mexico and Brazil would be ecstatic to have their Countrymen as the reigning UFC Champion.  Yet it appears that nothing is happening.  If it is happening and the activation is coming post the event, then that is just a recipe for disaster.

We are never going to attract the NASCAR type of sponsors if what we call marketing is ironing a decal on a pair of shorts.  Here at Ingrained Media we have brought in main stream electronic companies, main stream boating companies, large auto manufacturers, drink companies, huge musical talent and more.  We have brought them into the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.  Provided them with activation and total marketing solutions.  All of these companies expected activation and marketing solutions that went above and beyond logo placement.  That is why we have talent on the preliminary cards getting bigger name sponsorship deals then most of the main card talent.

MMA Athletes are not commodities and these opportunities that are being created by others (mainly Zuffa) can be life changing events.  What does it matter if you are fighting for the UFC Heavyweight Belt, if the guy you beat is busy counting his cash, paying off his homes (yes homes) and cars?  What is the actual goal?  To be a World Champion or to be able to support your family and not be in the struggle?  I would rather have my talent be rich than famous.  The sad part of the UFC on Fox event is that you could actually have both.  These managers or agents had an opportunity to change the lives of their fighters, open flood gates for their talent, and the future of the sport. They have not done that and I guess I just do not understand why.

Jason Genet
UPDATED 11-18-2011 – The UFC on Fox has came and gone.  I wanted to update my post a bit to reflect what we saw in the way of sponsorships.
Cain- Cain had a lot of the same sponsors as his previous fight.  Milwaukee Tools, Oak Grove, Dethrone, MicroTech, BSN, LUGZ and a few others.  These sponsors are feeling the pinch of not taking advantage of the opportunity.  There will always be a loser so that is why activation is so important.  Not only will there always be a loser but sometimes the fights are so boring that both fighters come out as losers.  These sponsors had months to promote Cain and keep him active with the Brand.  That is especially true for an athlete that is off due to injuries.  LUGZ who is a Urban shoe company has been sponsoring Cain and other MMA fighters for many years.  They were the only Brand with visible pre-fight activation.
JDS- Junio had Gillette from Brazil.  Gillette is a long term Zuffa sponsor and I am not sure if the two are tied together.  Most brands like Nike or Gillette have international divisions that usually run somewhat independent from the US Brand.  That is likely why we did not see any activation from Gillette here in the US.  This was likely the Brazil division and I am sure they had the activation going in Brazil as they are a major Brand.  Actually it appears that 100% of Juniors sponsors were Brazilian based companies.  In the end it seems like a smart move for a guy who is a hero in his home country and n0t to mention the 22 million viewers that tuned in to watch the fight.
Juniors camp did a great job targeting a lucrative and virtually untapped market.
FOX TV Rating Notes:

- If you combine the FOX and FOX Deportes telecasts (one in Spanish, one in English), it would have received close to a 3.5 rating with 6.2 million viewers and a peak of 8.8 million and a M18-34 rating of 4.7. It is believed a peak close to 9 million was achieved combining both.

- The 4.3 rating in Males 18-34 beat every college football game this season except the LSU vs Alabama game on CBS.

- The 4.3 rating in Males 18-34 beat 65% of the playoff and World Series baseball games this season on FOX.

- The 4.3 rating in Males 18-34 was the third highest rated television show of the year for FOX Deportes.

- The show drew 1.7 million women over the age of 18.

- The median age of viewers for the telecast was 35 years old.

- The 5.7 million viewers was the most watched fight in broadcast on US television since HBO’s Lennox Lewis vs Vitali Klitschko back in 2003

- UFC programming delivered a total of 6.7 million impressions across all FSMG television networks.

- The peak of 8.8 million lasted as long as the fight did, which was 1 minute (fight started at 9:40 pm).

- By 9:45 pm, the viewership had dropped to 5.9 million. Kimbo Slice vs James Thompson peaked at 6.51 million and lasted for 10 minutes and 38 seconds. (Sports Illustrated) … about 25% of the audience had left at the end of the main event.

- UFC on FOX began with 5.2 million viewers and dipped as low as 4.4 million before viewership started to climb around 9:36 pm, as the fighters were starting to make their way to the Octogon. (Sports Illustrated)

Brazil Ratings on TV Globo:

- The event peaked at 22M viewers in Brazil, and during the fight (1 minute), it reached a 20 rating and a 52% share (percentage of homes with TV’s). The ratings were above average for a Sunday morning. (Globo)

-Jason Genet


Our Newest Partner

DCMA Collective and Ingrained Media Partner Up to Usher the Brand Into the Sport of Mixed Martial Arts

Leading Lifestyle Brand DCMA Collective to Enter the World of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) April 25, 2011 — DCMA Collective Lifestyle Brand partners with Ingrained Media to take it’s brand of apparel and accessories into the world of Mixed Martial Arts. DCMA Collective, made famous by brothers Joel and Benji Madden of the band Good Charlotte, will mark its first foray into the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. Ingrained Media is one of the leading marketing agencies focusing on MMA.

The DCMA MMA Collection will be officially launched in the coming weeks and available through the DCMA store and select online retailers. While this may be the Brand’s first foray into MMA it is not the first for the brothers. Benji and Joel Madden are huge fans of the sport and the athletes that compete. Benji Madden also trains MMA at Fortune Gym in Los Angeles. Their love for the sport and the athletes made MMA a natural progression.

“I am stoked to finally be able to take our Brand into MMA. DCMA Collective has always been on the cutting edge with our designs and approach to the market. We are going to bring our promotional and design talents to the sport and athletes and see where we can take it.” said Benji Madden co-Founder of DCMA Collective. Madden continued, “MMA is not only the fastest growing sport in the World it brings together many forms of Martial Arts which are all combined with honor and commitment. Those aspects of the sport are things that are at the core of what we do at DCMA.”

DCMA Collective is more then a Skate or Band apparel company it is about a lifestyle and the experiences that are derived from that lifestyle. The DCMA Collective brand is about the Athletes, Artist, People, Music and Life. You simply can’t define it, you just have to experience it.

“We are honored to be able to work with a company such as DCMA Collective. DCMA has a great vision for what they want to do and how they want to accomplish it. Our team is thrilled to be able to work side by side with them and help DCMA reach their goals.” said Jason Genet President of Ingrained Media.

“We’re psyched to bring the Athletes and supporters of Mixed Martial Arts a new style to consider,” said Benji Madden, co-founder of DCMA Collective. Benji Madden continued “The designs will be a blend of our world class designers and input from the sponsored athletes, I can’t wait to see what they come up with.”

“This collaboration presents a truly compelling opportunity to go beyond the typical reach of the Athlete and DCMA Collective,” said Jason Genet, President of Ingrained Media. “We’re excited to see the results of the combined marketing efforts that that Joel, Benji and the folks at DCMA Collective have built blended with the Ingrained Media platform.”

The initial designs will be ready early to mid Spring 2011. Marketing efforts will begin with Social Media Campaigns and Internet Marketing. Collectively the combined efforts will reach over 3.4 million Social Media users, feature advertisements on over 100 MMA Websites, and include Fighter Endorsements and exposure in potentially televised events.
About DCMA Collective:
DCMA Collective was founded in 2006 by Good Charlotte’s Benji and Joel Madden, their brother Josh Madden and Tal Cooperman. DCMA Collective offers a lifestyle fashion collection for men, women and children. DCMA Collective currently offers apparel, accessories, and footwear all bearing their iconic brass knuckles logo. DCMA Collective opened their flagship store in the popular Melrose and Martel in Los Angeles on March 15th, 2008 and has been worn by countless celebrities, athletes and musicians. http://www.dcmacollective.com/

About Ingrained Media:
Ingrained Media is a boutique marketing firm with a specialization in sports marketing. Unlike traditional agencies Ingrained Media offers a hybrid of services with a specialty on athlete development and social media marketing. Ingrained Media has been responsible for the development of both brand and athlete social media presences reaching hundreds of thousands of users on a daily basis. Ingrained Media also has a strong interest and specialty in the fields of Advertising, Promotions, and Public Relations.


Social Media for Events

As a Dad I can’t remember how many birthday party invitations my kids received or handed out over the years but I know it was a lot.  Some of them were written by the parents and others in that famous kid penmanship that even makes pharmacist’s take a double look.My wife is a big Save the Date kind of gal and yet it seems that the days of paper invites and RSVP’s are becoming relics of the past.  The web and specifically Web 2.0 has change the way people plan events and get the word out.

Social Media is making it easier then ever before to plan, promote, and reach the masses or just your family and friends.  Social Media allows individuals to communicate information rapidly and adjust this for any unforeseen issues.  You do not need stamps, envelopes or smoke signals to get the word out anymore.

Social Media also allows you to engage and involve those who can not make the event and also allow them to still share and participate.  You can share photos and videos of the event as it is happening and share stories online after the event.

Social media can make the planning process smoother by leveraging digital word-of-mouth. Here are some tips for best results.

Establish Your Event-Related Channels

The months and weeks before your event is a critical promotional period. Use every social media channel at your disposal to get the word out about your event.  If it is a private event make a group and keep it exclusive or if it open to the public encourage them to share the event.

You can encourage people to share information on the event in return for small rewards. For example: “Share this event with 20 friends for 10% off your admission.”

If you have your own social community or use third party applications the process is very similar.  One thing you should know about adding events to your own site is the SEO reward that comes with events.  Search Engine Crawlers love relevant and timely information and events are almost always indexed higher then blogs.  If you have your own social community or website we recommend using this this as the hub for the event.  If you do not, consider Facebook and Twitter as your next best solution.

Start by creating an event page on Facebook and an event hashtag on Twitter, then create an event blog where you’ll post updates about it (new speakers, registration discounts, etc.). Make sure your Twitter hashtag is specific to your event or organization, without being too long.

Once you have your channels established you have to begin to feed them.  Populate them with content.  Make sure your event content is relevant to the event.  One common mistake is if you have a Mixed Martial Arts event populating the channel with MMA specific content is a road for failure.  The content is not original, is not relevant to your event, and will detract from it.  If it’s a social event, post video or music clips, create a pre-event contest, or connect event-goers through interaction and games.

For a social or community event the content should be engaging, fun, and shareable in order to drive word-of-mouth interest. If the event is more corporate in nature, offer fans and followers sneak peeks at topics to be discussed, or special pre-conference articles and presentations.  Keep the content about your event and what you are promoting.

Provide Incentives for Viral Marketing

Participation is key to your success.  The social community sites we build come with a built in “Event” tool.  This allows you to RSVP, share, promote and comment.  Make sure you are being responsive and relevant with your postings.  We can then push the event to any number of Social aggregators like Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon and many more.

No matter the platform or approach if you are a corporation or public event that is trying to attract eyeballs and attention to your event offer fans and followers special discounts or content. Incentivize people to register for the event, offer them early-bird discounts, invites to pre-event parties, or other rewards.

Make Registration Social

In the social communities we built Event sharing, inviting and RSVP’ing is all built in.  If you do not have a site that has this built in you can use a social registration service like EventBrite, which not only makes registration easier and more streamlined, but allows attendees to share their event activity with their friends. Other popular social event invitation platforms include Plancast and Twtvite. Most of these services are highly integrated with social networking platforms and can be configured with user caps and privacy options.

Use Location-Based Services and Check-in Rewards

Geo-location sites let you set up a page with rewards including badges, coupons, specials, or gifts. These location based services are easily integrated with other social networks such as Facebook, FourSquare and Twitter, so check ins will be shared with larger networks. When attendees come to your event, you can reward them for checking in at different stations, panels, or activities. Rewards such as free tee shirts, a gift card, or other small incentives can be redeemed after the show.

This helps you and those around you find you.  They may not be interested in attending the trade show you are at but if they know you are their and interacting they might just stop or check in.  This gives you a great chance to convert non-event attendees to visitors.

Bring your Event to Life With Social Media

This is one of those areas that is often missed.  Why are you at the event?  The answer should be it is for a good person, cause or business.  Any of those are worth promoting.  We live in a digital world and there is no reason to limit the event to the attendees.  One of the best ways to have more people at your next event is to have them talking about your event.

Why not capture your event as it unfolds and share it on your social community and push it out to sites like Twitter and Facebook.  If you do not have your own community contact us and in the mean time start using Twitter and Facebook for these feeds.

You can also encourage your attendees to share the events happenings as they unfold.  It is important that you encourage them to use your hashtag.  You can bet they will be Tweeting if it is a failure so encourage them to share it if they are enjoying themselves.  make sure you have someone from the host side on their Social Media Channels Tweeting and reading tweets.  Respond to problems.

Example: We were in Vegas for a fan meet and greet.  My client had to make a flight so eventually we have to cut the line off so we could get to everyone that was in line.  One of the clients fans was upset and in tears about missing out on meeting the client.  They Tweeted and because we were monitoring the channel  I was able to see we had an upset fan and sent someone to find them.  We were able to connect the fan and client and issue resolved.  I am not saying we would have lost that fan but I am saying we were able to make a meaningful engagement because we were monitoring the event.

Use a photographer and let your attendees know they can get the pictures from your social community or your social channels.  This will encourage them to come to your site and view the picture.  It will also increase the likelyhood of them sharing your event and the photos.

An active Twitter stream during your event not only engages participants in real time but also allows people who could not attend to get a feel for the sessions and topics being discussed. Some event organizers set up a huge screen behind speakers to display hashtagged tweets in real time. But again, this can backfire if the tweets become negative or go off-topic. All that interaction can derail speakers as they try to respond in real-time to all the “interference.”

This is why it is critical to have your team monitor the channels and interact or even lead the charge on interaction.  The @UFC channel on Twitter does a great job of engaging the fans and promoting the events beforehand, during and post event.

Include Non-Attendees

The goal of every event is to have happy attendees and hopefully be able to do the event over and over again.  The best way to “grow” the event is to include those not in attendance.  This is where your future growth will come from.  Plus there is absolutely no reason to share the event as it happens.  As mentioned above the majority of your attendees will be connected to one or more Social Media Platforms during your event.  You can and should try to own and direct this interaction.

There are some great tools that will allow you to livestream during the event using Facebook or UStream so fans can follow along online. Facebook enables you to store this stream so that people can watch it after the event proper. You can also create a YouTube channel for the event to post videos before, during, and after. Encourage non-attendees to ask questions through Twitter or Facebook during the event and answer them live.

The communities we build are fully integrated with all of these platforms and can support or host a livestream.

Extend the Shelf Life of Your Event, Even When it is Over

Your event doesn’t have to end the day it’s over. Social media can keep the momentum going for many weeks and months afterwards. On your blog, post a “wrap up” of all the key highlights. You can add links to presentations, key learnings, and other downloadable documents. Of course, you’ll want to post photos on the blog and on Facebook, and continue tweeting about the event even after it’s over. You can post thoughts, ideas, or links to longer articles that might be of interest to those who attended.

Another great way to keep your event from fading fast from people’s memories is to create ways for attendees and other interested parties to continue socializing, discussing, or debating topics covered there. Do whatever you can to keep the conversation alive.

I am sure a lot of you have been to fundraisers where they have the step and repeat and a house photographer that gives you a card for redemption of the photo later on in the evening.  Give that person your Social Channels address’s and let them know where they can find the videos, pictures and share stories from the event.

Post event contest are great too.  you can do contest like share your favorite story and the best commented or most shared content gets a prize.  Just be creative and let the attendees know that you are capturing the memories and where they can find them.

Use Social Media Metrics to Measure Success

Consider using online surveys to ask attendees for feedback on panels, venue, speakers, topics, and other facets of the event. Facebook polls are fun, easy ways to get quick responses and feedback from attendees.

Be prepared for honesty. If someone has a negative comment to share, make sure to address their comment or concern and store the information to improve next year’s event. Lastly, pull total social media stats from sites like Search.Twitter.com and Social Mention, or set up Google Alerts ahead of time. If the results are positive, don’t be shy about publicizing some of these metrics to highlight the reach and impact your event had.

This is another area where your hashtag or using third party social platforms like UbberTwitter or Hootsuite give you easy tools to track tweets and mentions.  Many of them are offering Social Media Analytics too.

HASHTAG

This is not a game that your hippie parents played while attending Woodstock.  This is an easy way to make your event come up on searches.  It is essentially Twitters answer to tags like you see on Flickr.  A hashtag can be any word or combination of words.  As an example #UFC would help my tweet show under searches for “UFC”.

Be Real and in Real-Time

Social media is your ability to be the source.  Your target audience is likely using social media right now.  You just have to engage with them and be real.  We have addressed this in some of our other blogs.

Make sure that you are posting in the real-time.  If you are hosting or attending an event make sure you post your opinions and experiences.  As you see things happen comment and share.  This will increase interest int he event and in you.

Jason Genet
http://www.ingrainedmedia.com


Has MMA Folded on Poker?

(Disclaimer: Ingrained Media represents Athletes within the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. We have never done business with any of the companies listed below but certain members of our company have. Collectively these individuals made less then $1000 from their previous relationships with these companies. We have no current relationship with these companies.)

Media outlets ranging from The Wall Street Journal to all the top MMA websites have reported on the issuance of arrest warrants for several executives from the online gaming and poker sites such as Pokerstars.com and FullTiltPoker.com and that the government has shut down those URL’s . The Mixed Martial Arts industry claimed “It’s sponsors were shutdown” and one infamous agent said, “In the short-term, it will severely impact fighters’ sponsor revenue, which traditionally matched their show pay for our televised clients. I would venture to say the poker industry is equal to apparel industry as the No. 1 sponsor of fighters outside the UFC.”

We wanted to look into this situation and the billion dollar industry that will be impacted by these bans and the effects, if any, on the sport of MMA and the game of Poker..

A couple things that we need to make sure are clear: This is a US based ban that has a minimal impact on the overall international gaming market, and secondly, this is the US; these executives and companies are innocent until proven guilty.

The sponsors that the Mixed Martial Arts industry have been talking about are actually not the sites that have been taken down. The sponsor of the Mixed Martial Arts industry that is the most prominent is FullTiltPoker.net. The site that has been banned by the US Government is Fulltiltpoker.com. The difference is the .NET site is for entertainment and learning purposes and the .COM is the pay-for-play site. You would think that agent would know who his “number 2” sponsor is. That is, unless he did his deals with FullTiltPoker.com.

It is actually feasible to assume that the Full Tilt corporation will spend more in the US on its .NET presence since that is all they will be allowed to do. Many of the sites that are reporting on this story also earn income from the online gaming industry. I am not sure why or how they could misreport the information.

The Television lineup is still full of various cash poker games and anyone that can go to an Indian Reservation Casino or most of the Casinos in Las Vegas offer both electronic and live cash games. Many states have “poker rooms” that allow cash games and in houses across the US family and friends come together for friendly cash poker games. Poker is a game that dates back to the earliest settlers of this country. Poker is a part of America’s history and future.

Full Tilt Poker is on record saying:

“Dublin Ireland (April 15, 2011) – Full Tilt Poker is saddened by today’s charges against its CEO Raymond Bitar and offers its full support to Mr. Bitar and Nelson Burtnick.

Online poker is a game of skill enjoyed by tens of millions of people in the United States and across the world. And, Full Tilt Poker remains as committed as ever to preserving the rights of those players to play the game they love online.

Mr. Bitar and Full Tilt Poker believe online poker is legal – a position also taken by some of the best legal minds in the United States. Full Tilt Poker is, and has always been committed to preserving the integrity of the game and abiding by the law.

“I am surprised and disappointed by the government’s decision to bring these charges. I look forward to Mr. Burtnick’s and my exoneration”, said Mr. Bitar.

Unfortunately, as a result of this action, Full Tilt Poker has decided that it must suspend “real money” play in the United States until this case is resolved. However, Full Tilt Poker will continue to provide peer-to-peer online poker services outside of the United States.”

We tend to agree with Mr. Bitar’s claims. While we cannot reasonably or responsibly talk about the legal issues these 11 executives are facing, as we said they are innocent until proven guilty. What we do know is that many of the greatest legal minds contend that poker is a game of skill not chance and therefore not technically gambling. I love the game of poker myself. I have played on FullTiltPoker.net and we have a family tradition where we all gather over Thanksgiving and have a Texas Hold Em Tournament.

Online gambling and online poker just got a lot less convenient in the US. The courts are going to be forced to determine if online gambling and poker should be legal and if legal, who regulates the industry.

If you’re in the U.S., when you point your browser to any of those three gambling sites, you see a scary message: The U.S. government has seized the domain names of the three sites, preventing gambling transactions and anything else:

The Government claims that these businesses manipulated the banks in order to process these transactions (almost all of them conducted electronically) using wire transfers, credit cards and other means of commerce.

The problem gets a bit dicey when you realize that these three online gambling organizations are not based in the U.S. For instance, PokerStars’ headquarters is on the Isle of Man, a self-governed British Crown Dependency located in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland. Here is an image of their headquarters.

Even if the US Government wins the judgement there is no guarantee that the Isle of Man or the other host countries where these business’ operate and are based will comply with the US extradition request or asset seizure request. There is huge disagreement about the legality of online gambling. Not to mention the economic impact these small countries would feel if these large industries ceased to exist.

Are we supposed to believe the banks and credit card companies did not notice billions of dollars of transactions coming and going out of very small countries? Bank of America calls me if I use my card in a store that is outside of my normal shopping habits but they could not detect the billions heading to Ilse of Man or Costa Rica?

Since we are talking about US law and online gambling being illegal in the US, some questions obviously arise. The US Government is for the people, by the people, right? A recent poll of US citizens with over 3100 responses indicates the people are siding with the poker companies. 52% of those asked said online gambling should be legal and that it is a victimless crime, 33% said as long as it was regulated and only 15% said no. So 85% of the people polled feel as if online gambling should be legal and if we were asking them about poker only the percentage would be in the mid to high 90’s.

Last but surely not least, Full Tilt Poker specifically is just a platform. The laws that are being violated if online poker is illegal are being broken by the users of Full Tilt Poker, not the company itself. If the Government prevails in it’s case against Full Tilt and others, are the Internet providers who connect the users responsible? Or how about the poker table manufacturer? Full Tilt is not a wagering company or betting company. They are the virtual version of a Card Room; they merely provide a service to those who wish to test their skills against others for fun, prizes or money. It is duly regulated and licensed by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission.

The residents of the US seem to want to be able to play poker and gamble online and poker seems to be at its all time high in popularity. The few in opposition of the game and its legality should be reminded of Las Vegas. It was a relatively unregulated home to the Mob who handled and profited from the gambling industry. The US Government did not shut down Las Vegas, they cleaned it up and regulated it. The Mob was servicing millions of tourists (the voting public) and the Government found a way to keep them playing. Now Vegas represents a billion dollar industry.

For a company that has always found a way to brand itself (NSFW) in a industry valued in the billions we think the fight has just begun.

Or look at China. Some of Las Vegas’s biggest “whales” came from Asia and specifically China. China took a small island that had historically been plagued with prostitution and some of the lowest numbers trade jobs in the region. It has been transformed to a Chinese Las Vegas. Many of the same casinos located in Las Vegas have locations there. It has become extremely successful and transformed the economy of the region.

The law makers and media do not need to worry about the MMA athletes who are sponsored by websites still operating and very much in need of promotion. We need to ask our Senate and Congress to try to find a way to do what the majority of the people want and legalize poker and online gambling. Virtual gaming will help our economy and could create jobs here in the US if we found a way to embrace rather than erase this business.

Jason Genet

IngrainedMedia.com


Mixed Martial Arts Gold Mine?

We have been blessed to work with some amazing athletes and sponsors over the past few years. They both shared one thing in common, they gain exposure when they perform, and in that performance they have a 50% or greater chance to loose. Throughout this time in the sport of MMA, fighters complain that they do not earn enough and the sponsors claim to not be able to identify the return on investment (ROI) involved.

One of the big issues is that the athletes are usually too busy to market themselves correctly and do not have the right representation helping them find the time and tools to build their own fame outside of the events. The sponsors rarely activate the sponsorship and roll the dice on the event. Yet the athlete they are paying has little to no control over the event, if they show the sponsors logos or the very important walkout. Some brands have paid mid five-figures per fight to have their shirt worn during the walkout and post-fight coverage.

Many opportunities to engage the consumer and potential consumers are often missed or ignored and the activation is almost non-existent. The major promotions like the UFC regulate and restrict which sponsors are allowed and even charge the Brands a sponsorship participation fee. This fees can sometimes be in the mid to high five figures per year. They are not given anything that any other brand is given. You would think that this “tax” would increase the sponsors desire to get more for their investment. Instead it appears to have only reduced the amount the sponsors are willing to pay, made the sponsors focus more on if the event will be televised, and at the same time weeded out the small to medium apparel companies from the mix and removed their ability to support athletes. That is at least what they will have you believe. The fact is, many have just used this “tax” as a reason to leave the sport because they never developed an ROI.

We have brought in many non-endemic sponsors that are focused on the athletes and are willing to look at the events as “bonus” exposure while working with the athlete in a true endorsement fashion. One of the UFC’s major sponsors, Bud Light and it’s parent company, is arguably one of the largest Sports Marketing agencies in the world. They are also one of the most successful.

There is no missing the event involvement Bud Light has in place with the UFC. Their approach to their MMA Fight Team is less about big in-event placement on the athlete and instead more focused on outside the event endorsement. They use their athletes in their retail point of sale advertisements, use the athletes image and likeness in their bar and restaurant advertising, produce webisode series promoting the athletes and more. They make sure they ingrain their brand and athletes at every possible outlet and event. It may be argued that they provide equal or greater promotion of these athletes than the UFC does.

So what are some of the solutions? The first step is for the Brands to realize they are sponsoring and endorsing an athlete. They need to have a plan in place on how they are going to extract value from the sponsorship and utilize these athletes. Instead of looking at it as a billboard type logo placement it must instead be viewed as a relationship. They have to get beyond being a fan of the athlete because that will only lead to the most expensive Facebook photo in the world. Second, they need to activate around the athlete and his or her platform. Use the events these athlete’s participate in as spikes in exposure and capitalize on the ability the events have to engage the target consumer but do not make this the be all, end all effort. The athletes and their team need to make sure they have a platform to offer. The brands need to try to coordinate and cross promote whenever possible.

As you can see Wrangler does a great job with this. They offer a wide array of their shirts with various PRCA and PBR sponsor logos on the shirt along with their Wrangler logo. I know MMA has to get away from having seven competing fight brands on one tee shirt and shorts before they can offer this type of merchandise. As you will see in the slide show below it is not just Rodeo either, many sports employ this model. You are also not tied to using all of the brands as you see with the Wrangler shirt above.

Here is the Official NASCAR Team DuPont Jersey.

And here is a NASCAR fan wearing the same jersey.

Obviously there are no competing brands on this jersey but you see various brands showcased and the primary brand DuPont is prominent. The fans buy these jerseys for the same reason they buy NFL, NBA and MLB apparel because it is authentic looking.

I recently moved to the Central Coast of California and on any given day you see a slew of Cyclists riding through the hills, coast line, and throughout town. I started to notice the majority of them are wearing authentic team apparel. Either Radio Shack has started sponsoring every cyclist in the world or once again we are seeing fans and practitioners of the sport seeking authentic apparel. Here are some examples –

Here is the Team Radio Shack cycling uniform.

and

Here is the Team using the uniform

And once again here is a fan who has sought, purchased, and is proudly representing the brand in the exact same gear.

This is not really a sport specific phenomenon. The fact is NASCAR, NBA, Soccer, MLB, NFL, PBR, PRCA, Motocross, Indy Car and more derive a considerable amount of revenue from this type of merchandise. The brands exposure is extended beyond the athlete, the event, and the athlete’s platform and the marketing provided by the Brand. The exposure alone is a tangible return on the sponsors investment and having your brand worn by your target consumer or applied to your target consumers personal property becomes an extremely valuable proposition for the brands supporting these athletes and Teams.

The majority of the MMA industry is missing this market and opportunity. From the athletes to the brands no one seems to be making any replica merchandise. There is no doubt that there is a demand for these types of products. There is no doubt that in these tough economic times we need the sponsors to be more successful then ever before and at the same time find a way to extend the engagement beyond the events.

The managers and agents in the sport of MMA need to get out of the patch business and get into the brand building business. They need to build the brands of the athletes they represent and help guide the brands that support those athletes to successful and controllable engagements. If you are merely trading logos for dollars based on exposure you did not create you are on the path to failure for you and your clients.

The athletes need to look for ways to connect with the fans and extract value for the sacrifices made. Depending on events and televised exposure you can not and do not control is a recipe for disaster. You need to yourself or have other people helping you build your brand and increase your exposure even when you are not fighting.

Brock Lesnar’s sponsor Death Clutch has offered replica walk out tees in the past. They seem to be one of the few brands or athletes offering such items. In the past you used to be able to buy the Overeem Replica Fight shorts. The issue with fight shorts is that unless you can kick ass like The Reem you probably should not be wearing his shorts. It is kind of like showing up to your first BJJ class with 20 sponsors on your gi.

Here is the Death Clutch UFC 116 walk out tee:

We have had one client that fought 9 times and 3 of which were in the UFC and he had earned just under $100,000 for 3 years of work and 9 fights that he won, his MMA earnings were predicated on when or if he fought. The same client is now a millionaire based on competing 3 times over two years. He has months where he makes $50,000 and has consistently has earned a monthly income from his endeavors in and out of the Octagon. The difference has been focusing on building his brand and finding ways for his sponsors to earn their ROI. He has both endemic and non-endemic sponsors alike.

The authentic and replica tee shirts are a great opportunity to increase your brand, your sponsors branding, and your income as an athlete. You can go to any size event and you will see merchandise similar to what you see here and in our slide show. If the athletes do not create these then the brands should. Even the video games strive to ingrain authentic sponsors on the in-game characters on both the THQ and EA Sports MMA games.

This should not be ignored and it very well may be the lowest hanging fruit in the entire MMA market. If you trained would you wear replicas of your favorite fighters shorts or rash guard?

I am sure just about everyone in the US has seen that NASCAR fan who has their personal possessions or vehicles with logos from the brands that support their favorite athlete.

Here is a slide show that shows various sport jerseys and tee shirts and the fans that wear them. It is easy to see the potential market that is out there. A lot of these fans are cross over fans and are fans of many sports.


Social Experts or Snake Oil Salesmen?

We’ve received quite a few emails about our Facebook blogs, so we wanted to expand upon some of those thoughts. Please feel free to comment or send us an email about your thoughts.

The fact is Facebook is a 500 pound “Gorilla” and most people know of it or have an account. So essentially, it becomes the easiest target for companies and brands to focus on. The job of “social media manager” is one of the fastest growing new job postings. University of Southern California is even offering courses and degrees focused on this new phenomenon. Agencies all over are working overtime to create new divisions focusing on social media. Pretty much every brand has a social media “expert” to assist them in this new world of social media.

The “affiliate marketing” experts are now touting their social selling skills and as this new market emerges, the so called experts seem to be more like job seeking opportunists rather then social media experts.

This group of newly employed “experts” continue to spout off about engagement on third party social platforms like Facebook as if they are Mark Zuckerberg’s first cousins. They are the same ‘experts’ that lead brands to the social graveyard called Myspace.com. They claim that these engagements are meaningful and encourage these brands to spend their hard earned money to help promote a third party application. Billions of dollars are being spent to gain a “like” and resulting in tons of free exposure for the brands like Facebook. Where is the ROI? They are merely telling brands what the brands already know (that Facebook is popular) and that social media marketing is an emerging but necessary market.

As we have discussed in our previous blogs, people (the brands target consumer) use social networking and specifically sites like Facebook to connect with friends. There was a time when you could not even join without a connection within the network. Now that it has grown, the brands and their experts see Facebook as the holy grail of social media marketing.

Facebook is essentially web 2.0’s version of email You do not need to send emails through email clients. You can share, connect or find your friends, colleagues and family. It is an easy way to stay connected and communicate with the people you want to connect with. No email address changes or loosing the phone number. Just type in their name and Facebook will give you numerous ways to connect. Most consumers do not seek to have these kinds of relationships with brands. They are interested in brands providing them content, information, contests and so on, but a meaningful friendship is not what they are after. If you are a brand and not an athlete or celebrity, the actual engagement ration on Facebook for brands is close to zero percent.

People aren’t involved with most brands’ fan pages, even though on a daily basis a large percentage of them are involved in connecting with the brand. The problem is the “real” engagements and the feedback provided is normally one directional. This is not engagement, but more like a new form of email spam. When the engagement is real Facebook provides no real way to engage the users back. Ultimately, what little success you will find can backfire. The consumer will feel ignored.

People tend to forgive the celebrities for the lack of response. The celebrities tend to be forgiven based on the sheer number of fans they have commenting. It would be humanly impossible to engage with 50 Cent’s 12,000,000 Facebook fans. He offers his hard core fans his own unique social network that has over 540,000 active members (www.thisis50.com). To me, this group is far more valuable to 50 and his endorsed brands. He can directly communicate back and forth with his fans. The engagements are real. He can monetize thisis50.com and owns it rather then being a passive participant on Facebook.

There are too many people and groups on Facebook and making lasting and meaningful engagements is next to impossible. Facebook and sites like it offer the users of the site a tremendous platform to stay connected and communicate. It just does not mean that all of its users will “like” you or even be your target consumer. Social media is like having clovers in your lawn. They look cool and you hope to find a four leaf clover but they are not necessarily good for your lawn.

I always try to get our clients to visualize social media as a virtual social gathering. If you had a gathering with 12,000,000 people, it would be chaos. Even 500,000 could be chaotic so brands have to remember that they are going to be at the center of the conversation. So building your network needs to be balanced with feeding your network content and meaningful engagements.
Brands should, however, focus on Facebook advertising. The cost to advertise on Facebook is very affordable and very effective. Since Facebook revolves around socializing, those conversations create the ability to target conversations and interest. Facebook users tend to list their likes and dislikes and Facebook advertising can effectively help you find your target consumer. Targeting is the smartest ad expenditure brands can make. Niche advertising networks like MMAAdnet.com are one solution; contextual based targeting is another. Each are very effective and remove a lot of the mystery involved when advertising on or off line.

Brands SHOULD have a page or at least a group or two established on sites like Facebook. They should use these platforms to help find and potentially extract this consumer from being a passive friend to a truly engaged consumer. At the very least, Facebook and third party social media platforms offer “free advertising” for brands.

Build a realistic plan, assign realistic goals and go. If you are using it correctly, social media will tell you where to go and what to do. You have to listen to the consumer. If your expert has advised you to focus solely on Facebook and suggests hiring staff to manage the comments and tell you what you should be sharing, you might need a new expert. There is no magic to social media marketing. It is about engagements and providing feedback in a timely manner.

You can have your own thisis50.com style site with an iPhone app for under $5000. You and your team can manage this and all of your social platforms through your cellphones and desk top. I guarantee you it is not Weird Science or even Sixteen Candles. It is just communication with the very person you are willing to spend tons of money to understand what they like and want. Save your money and time and just ask them.

Jason Genet

IngrainedMedia.com


Henry Cejudo

Henry Cejudo CeWHOdo

Cejudo Captures Gold

You might not be a fan of Wrestling if you do not know who Henry Cejudo is. Either way, please keep reading as this blog is relative to any sport and athlete.  Henry won the Olympic Gold Medal in the sport of Wrestling at the ripe age of 21.

Being the youngest Olympic Gold Medalist in USA Wrestling History was quite the accomplishment.  His Olympic run was your typical underdog story.  He came into the Olympics seeded 16th and even lost his first period of his first match.

In the sport of wrestling, especially at the elite level, losing the first period can sometimes mean losing the match. Again in the quarterfinals and the semifinals Henry would go on to lose the first period and was forced to rally back to victory.

Henry went on to win his gold medal match and the gold medal.  Henry’s personal struggle and life story made this unbelievable accomplishment even more amazing.

Henry was one of the country’s most decorated high school wrestlers.  He won State Championships in two states (AZ and CO) and was the ASICS Wrestler Of The Year. He was also the first high-schooler to win U.S. Nationals since USA Wrestling‘s formation as the sport’s national sanctioning body in 1983.

Henry’s youth was another tale of overcoming accomplishments.  He was born in the late 80’s in South Central Los Angeles, California.  His parents were undocumented Mexican immigrants.  Henry’s father was a frequent long-term visitor to many of the California Prisons.

Henry’s mother did what she could to provide for her six children and worked numerous jobs to provide for her family.

Henry’s family eventually settled in Phoenix, Arizona which was just a hotter version of the bad neighborhoods they had lived in the past.  This is the basis for a story that many lead to tell from behind the walls of America’s prisons.  Some could say he was destined for failure.  Henry found wrestling and began to devote himself to the sport.  Henry used the sport to build an opportunity for himself and his family.  Henry and his brother dominated the sport of high school wrestling.

They were so talented the national developmental freestyle coach for USA Wrestling invited both Angel and Henry to attend the resident freestyle program at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO.

The fact that Henry essentially raised himself while his mother worked and his father paid his debts to society lead to the fact that Henry’s education was nowhere near the college level.  Making it to the Olympics without college wrestling is the route less taken to say the least.  Had Henry’s chosen sport been Basketball or Football he would have been on a full ride to any NCAA Division I powerhouse and playing in the NBA or NFL today, he is simply that good.

Henry took second at World’s losing to Matt Azevedo but came back the next year and won the spot on the 2008 Olympic team.  This is normally a spot reserved for NCAA All-American’s and Champions.  Henry would secure the Gold Medal in storybook fashion.

Henry was the poster child for the 2008 Olympics during his time in Beijing and when he came back to the US.  He appeared on The Today Show, The Tonight Show, CBS Early Morning Show, ABC’s Nightly News, Oprah, and many more.  For a short period of time he was an International Star.

I was sitting one row ahead of him when he and his posse rolled into a MMA fight in Phoenix.  Most everyone knew who he was and a lot of kids were coming up asking for his autograph and he was even announced as being in attendance by the promotion.  He must have had 12 to 15 people with him, who all seemed to be catering to Henry.

Henry was living the life of a rock star.  Everyone wanted a piece of him and “just a few minutes of his time”.  It seemed like wrestling finally had a star.

Now, fast forward to 2011 and we are beginning to approach the 2012 Olympic Games where Henry is again just one of many wrestlers in the 55 kg division competing for the one spot at the top.  In the last 4 years we have seen All-American Wrestlers become Champions and millionaires in the sport of MMA.  We have seen Wrestlers become the dominant force in the fastest growing sport in the world.  Wrestling programs at the College level are under attack and stories like skipping college to pursue the Olympic Gold may become the only option.  The PAC 10 Conference is shrinking and NCAA Division II powerhouses like Nebraska have been eliminated.

Pac 10

Wrestling is one of the few USA Olympic sports that still uses true amateurs when competing.  Something the Eastern European countries stopped doing long ago.  Athletes like Henry need to find ways to earn a living and remain relevant for 4 years before then hoping to secure the single spot on the Olympic team.

This may be the very reason that wrestling is considered a “poor mans” martial art.  It also is likely the same reason the sport of wrestling is failing to thrive while wrestlers are able to use wrestling outside of the sport the thrive and earn a living.  My very own brother has spent 20 plus years of his life sacrificing his time and efforts for about $2,800 a year.  The Athletic Directors pay by season so it doesn’t seem as bad but any Wrestling Coach will tell you it is a year round commitment.

Why is USA Wrestling so anti-MMA?  Everywhere I go I see BJJ gyms and MMA gyms opening in the same town where the Wrestling Programs are on life support.  What was the plan with a guy like Henry?  Obviously the USA Wrestling program knew he could win or they would not have even invited him to Colorado.  Once he made the team and won the spot on the ladder, why not market him?  When he won the gold and had all of the press and momentum, why not market him?

Instead they let a rising star succumb to gravity.  Imagine an athlete like Henry competing in MMA.  His wrestling skills alone would place him at the top of the 125 pound division.  Then you take his story and his Olympic notoriety and he is everything the UFC was hoping for in a Cain Velasquez.

Imagine a wrestler like Henry after he has learned to contend with punches and submissions.  He would be an elite Mixed Martial Artists and his participation in MMA would allow him to earn a living, promote USA Wrestling and make him a more complete athlete when the Olympic Games come around in 2012.

Instead Henry Cejudo is just another great Wrestler having to earn every inch he gets.  He has to work harder and train harder than any other athlete in the world and all for a once in a lifetime opportunity to represent our Country for free.  USA Wrestling needs to embrace MMA if it expects MMA fans to embrace Wrestling.  MMA is the NFL for Wrestlers.  MMA makes it possible for guys like Henry to continue building his brand outside of Olympic Trials and The Olympics.

If not MMA, what is the plan?  There is an extreme lack of follow-through in marketing and little to no plan exists to keep amateur wrestlers who earn a place in the spotlight relevant.  From Henry’s posse to USA Wrestling, they all have to take responsibility for Henry’s lack of exposure.  If he happens to win another Olympic Gold, will we see even less than we have seen since 2008?  Maybe USA Wrestling is waiting for Henry to save a baby from a burning building while overcoming the obstacles in his life and winning the US Olympic Gold.

No matter what the platform or stage, athletes and their posses need to find a way to stay relevant and engage with people of the sport.  Do not expect those around you to do so because you are the current flavor of the week.  You worked hard to earn this opportunity, make sure you have someone working hard to make it last.  Do not become a Henry CeWHOdo.

Olympic Gold Taste So Good!

For my wrestling readers, please do your part to support your local wrestling tournaments and teams.  Give back to the sport.  It needs you now more than ever.  One of the greatest and oldest sports in the World has played a large part in building one of the fastest growing professional sports in the world.  There has never been a better time to support Wrestling and Wrestlers.  USA Wrestling works for you.  They could not exist without your contributions so make sure you let them know you want more for the sport and the athletes of the sport.

Jason Genet

http://www.ingrainedmedia.com


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.