Mickey's Teams With BJ Penn

May 29, 2008

Miller Brewing Company’s Mickey’s brand recently announced a new partnership With UFC Lightweight Champion BJ Penn. Penn is the second MMA star to sign on as a promotional partner with Mickey’s. Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz signed a similar agreement with the brewing company in April.

Mickey’s was the official malt liquor of the UFC until recently being replaced by Anheuser Busch’s Bud Light brand. Mickey’s seems to be engaged in an end around of sorts; with the UFC Brand no longer available to them they are choosing to go directly to the athlete in developing promotions, events and packaging with a MMA-centric twist. This is a much more advantageous situation for the athlete, as they will see larger proceeds from a direct sponsorship as opposed to mainly appearance fees under the UFC deal. The athletes also will have input into all phases of the marketing process in the new relationship as opposed to little control in the UFC-Mickey’s deal (due to the surrendering of their ancillary rights per their UFC contract).

With Miller and Coors/Molson planning to finalize their joint venture for US operations sometime in 2008, it will be interesting to see if the new mega-brewer will make further moves in the MMA market. They could continue the pattern set by Mickeys in signing individual fighters or possibly make a larger play, teaming with some other MMA promotion to act as a counterweight to the UFC/Anheuser Busch pairing.

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