Overview.

Mixed martial arts is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country,(Schorn, 2007) Due to the growing popularity throughout the nation companies have jumped all over the sport to advertise their respective products. “AT the end of a mixed martial arts bout, the fighters stand in the center of the cage, often donning a T-shirt given to them by their sponsors, as they await the referee’s official decision” (Popiolkowski, 2005). Advertisers locate their advertisements all over from the floor of the fighting octagon to the t shirts each fighter puts on before and after his match. On a smaller scale thousands of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts)gyms are located all over the globe. People with no experience in the sport can participate, some train to eventually rise in the ranks and become professionals while other engage in the sport just for the workout to stay in shape. The sport takes fighting techniques from across the world and combines them into what is essentially known as mixed martial arts. This local involvement with the sport gets MMA more recognition nationally, thereby increasing the willingness for advertisers to partake in the sport.MMA fights are a great way for advertisers to create brand awareness for companies promoting.



Limitations
American states as well as Canadian provinces as some areas still won’t allow MMA events in their territories. (Popiolkowski, 2005) even though mixed martial art’s popularity has been exploding globally there is still a large portion of society who is unaware of the sport. Some companies are unattracted in advertising through mixed martial arts due to its violent nature so companies are hesitant to associate their products with MMA. Recently ESPN and Disney have banned UFC (the largest fight promotion business in the sport of MMA) commercials from their respective networks. Some believe the reasoning for this is because of the MMA popularity ESPN is planning on starting up their own MMA promotion business to compete with the UFC.



Cost
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Advertising across the sport of mixed marital arts varies between venues. Advertisers place their advertisements in MMA gyms, arenas, commercials, fighters apparel. MMA has a large range of places to advertise which fluctuates the pricing. Title fights are regularly held at large casinos or sports arenas. The pricing of ads in nationally televised fights are. Small time MMA gyms are relatively easy to advertise in. Sean Goldstein a local Morgantown student and professional MMA fighter added “ I take any chance I can get to get merchandise from people willing to sponsor me for my fights”. (Personal Interview, Goldstein) Goldstein went on to talk about how there are so many armature fighters trying to get noticed who do not have a significant funds who will jump all over offers from local businesses and large corporations to endorse them. He insisted it did not matter how small the endorsement may be. In larger fight televised fights some businesses like the UFC makemuch more money so there is substantially more money in the
UFC payroll.






Reach/ frequency
MMA reach is extended world wide, since the origins of the sport are a combination of cultures fighting styles all across the globe. “we’ve seen UFC events being held in places such as Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates. It seems that next in line are China, India, South Korea, and the Middle East.” ("UFC gains popularity," 2010) the global reach of mixed martial arts is one of the reasons why advertising is such a hot commodity for advertisers. In Cina PRIDE is the largest MMA promoter and draws an audience comparable to UFC’s audience in the USA. 74 % of televised mixed martial arts matches are males. Females only make up 26% of the audience. Religion has now embraced mixed martial arts. “Mr. Renken’s ministry is one of a small but growing number of evangelical churches that have embraced mixed martial arts”. (R.M. Schneideman, 2009) The church believes there are similarities between the way Christ fought for what he believed and the struggle to compete in MMA. Being able to hold events on a nation wide televised while also having the same style of fight in a local event held at a local bar or YMCA draws attention on two levels. MMA unlike a lot of other sports has the ability to include any size of participant. Athletes who are seem unfit for other sports are welcomed with open arms into the world of MMA. The fact that any regular Joe has the opportunity to rise within the ranks of the MMA world to become a household name on television draws a large appeal. So advertisements at MMA gyms and arenas gain a considerable amount of recognition. “The Ortiz vs. Shamrock fight was the fourth highest rated among all cable network sporting events in 2006 (the first two were football, the third was college football and the rest of the top ten included the NBA playoffs, the NFL draft, and World Cup Soccer)” (Jenn,2008) so these fights are now competing with the main sporting event that have been around for decades. Some see MMA to be a brutal violent form of entertainment, which in all fairness, at first glance seems easy to label it accordingly. However, MMA takes two key rules form every single style of fighting across the globe, Discipline, a core feature that is what MMA is based around. Competitors may have brutalized one another but at the end of every fight they use their second key rule,Respect. These fighters have built up relationships with one another, while it seems like they are mortal enemies to everyone watching the two fighters just see it as friendly competition.
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Scheduling/ strategies
MMA advertising has a 6 month pulsing scheduling, this schedule follows the pattern mainly of the UFC, the largest branch of MMA nationwide. During these 6 months advertisers through MMA get the largest amount of advertising exposure. Title fights that are broadcast-ed across the world draw in such a large crowd that there is an extremely high and expensive demand for advertising time. Television ads and product placement inside and outside of the arenas are in the highest demand by advertising agency's. Strategically the products advertised deal with the audience drawn to MMA events. Even in smaller local venues energy drinks sponsor fighters. “My last fight in Cleveland, Venom energy drink gave me a free hat and case of 45 bottles of their product, at my level I’m taking any sponsor I can get so after I won I drank a bottle while being interviewed and thanked the Venom energy company”. (Personal Interview, Goldstein)

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UFC in the past 3 years dominating sales from the once dominant WWE


This graph shows the the growth in popularity that MMA continues to have. WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) for the past 20 years has dominated all of its competitors popularity wise bedsides boxing. Now it has fallen in the ranks behind the newly popular MMA branch UFC.


General impact of advertising on the alternative/emerging media
Advertising agencies find MMA to be a great form of entertainment to advertise through. MMA has become such an emerging popularity makes for a great hook for advertising to catch on to. As MMA grows the advertisements that are connected with it are also gaining exposure. MMA being such an extreme sport draws companies who want to advertise “extreme” styled products. The products match up with the style of MMA. For example Amp energy drink is an avid sponsor of MMA events. Tapout, a boxing/MMA company, its products are not only being advertised before and after the even but are also being worn by the fighters in some matches. These are some of many perfect fits in other words in the MMA advertising world and advertising business.
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http://modules.ufc.com/index.cfm?fa=misc.advertising

This pie graph highlights the amount of MMA internet video that are watched world wide. The USA has a profound interest in highlight videos, Youtube has virtually any professional fighter tagged in some sort of video that can be watched by the public. The UFC alone has over 150,000 members on their Youtube subscription.


Responsiveness of the audiences to the alternative/emerging media

MMA’s audience has been growing so much that it’s original audience structure which used to only be mainly other fighters has exploded over the past few years to extreme sports enthusiast as a main portion of the audience, who now include other sports fans some, boxing fans who have made the transition to the more upbeat, faster paced fighting sport of MMA. Celebrities are now a norm at larger events whose appearance draw their own fans to MMA. The MMA venues create not only awareness but also interest in what the fighters are doing to perform and what products they use to get o the level of physical shape they are at.
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Audience qualities of the alternative/emerging media
Close to three out of every four MMA fans are males. While only a few years ago the small audiences for fights consisted of fellow MMA participants, fighters family and friends and a few fans. Now there are sold out arenas with 30,000 plus people watching the event live and millions tuning in to the event through internet streams and television broadcasts. MMA fans are people with a more aggressive nature, tough people who don’t cringe at the sight of blood and nasty injuries. MMA is seen by some as a modern day more civilized version of gladiatorial games. These fans are not only just following their favorite fighters, they pick people to mold their own MMA skills after. Many fans are typically involved with MMA themselves so they concentrate on certain aspects a normal fan may not. Some fans are very aware of what supplements each fighter is taking( the product placement after and before the fight helps this) and if fighters using a certain supplement are regularly victorious the fan/fighters may switch their own supplement brand. On a smaller scale the some fighters are endorsed by energy drinks like Monster and AMP, the fighters will crack open a can after a victory and viewers are drawn to these products since they are being consumed by such a phenomenal athlete. Even in smaller local venues energy drinks sponsor fighters. “My last fight in Cleveland, Venom energy drink gave me a free hat and case of 45 bottles of their product, at my level I’m taking any sponsor I can get so after I won I drank a bottle while being interviewed and thanked the Venom energy company”. (Personal Interview, Goldstein)
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http://modules.ufc.com/index.cfm?fa=misc.advertising



Other interesting qualities
- World wide audience.
- Women and men are both participants in the sport.
- Fastest growing sport within the last decade.
- MMA does not have a required set weight, there are weight levels for everyone.
- Boxing as a whole has seen its fan base drop off significantly with the emergence of a faster paced MMA fighting style.
- UFC has over 1.3 million twitter followers
For scale Dana White and the Feritta brothers owners the of UFC bought the UFC 10 years ago for a price of 2 millions US dollars which is now estimated to be worth over a billion US dollars by Forbes magazine.
-The average growth rate over the past four years is almost 390% from MMA events.(Jenn,2008)

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MMA promotion businesses like the better known UFC are sprouting up across the globe and starting become mainstream, here are a few of the larger fighting moguls.


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Advertisers
Some of the Most successful and common advertisers in MMA
- Anheuser-Bush
- Affliction
- Monster
- AMP Energy (Mountain Dew)
- Tapout
- Everlast
- EA Sports
- Harley Davidson
- Xyience supplements
- Boost Mobile
- Mickeys


All of the above are staples in advertising for MMA larger scale events(while all are not listed since many endorsements are made fight by fight). Local fights are a great time to advertise local businesses for a relatively smaller price compared to the expensive product placement that some of the large companies are paying for the nationally televised events. Anheuser-Bush recently signed a deal with the UFC to take the center decal floor spot in the Octagon (fighting ring) for all of the upcoming televised fights in 2011.


References

Cisk, R.C. (2010, September 11). Ufc gain popularity. Retrieved from http://sportsbookmaker.org/news/ufc-gains-popularity-thanks-to-dana-white/1148/

Jenn, J.M. (2008, june). The numbers . Retrieved from http://www.mmafacts.com/main.cfm?actionId=globalShowStaticContent&screenKey=cmpNumbers&s=MMA





Personal Interview , Sean Goldstein phone #- (609) 851 4939

Popiolkowski, J.P. (2005, July 20). Combat spor in the spotlight. Top Story, Retrieved from http://www.stateline.org/live/ViewPage.action?siteNodeId=136&languageId=1&contentId=43941

R.M. Schneideman, R.M. S. (2009, January 20). Companies warm to sponsoring mixed martial arts. Advertising, 2. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/02/us/02fight.html

Sean, Goldstein. on advertisements in MMA (2010). Personal interview, phone #- (609) 851 4939

Schorn, D.S. (2007). Mixed martial arts. A New Kind of Fight, Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/12/08/60minutes/main2241525.shtm