Mainstream Appeal of MMA Becomes Apparent At CES

January 15, 2009

Mark Cuban and Randy CoutureLas Vegas – The long hard road that leads to the mainstream acceptance of mixed martial arts has seemingly been becoming much easier of late, whether it be a Microsoft commercial featuring Rashad Evans or video game’s featuring Randy Couture and Gina Carrano, the sport is fast becoming acceptable where before it was once dismissed as just another extreme sport fad. While the use of MMA personalities to promote products and services is not as common as it is for other professional athletes, its acceptance has grown almost in lock step with the popularity of the sport itself, nowhere was this more apparent then 2009’s installment of the Consumer Electronics Trade show in Las Vegas this past weekend.

The countries largest trade show designed to showcase the most innovative and revolutionary products the personal electronics world has to offer draws hundreds of exhibitors from electronics giants like Sharp and Panasonic to Garmin GPS to even personal protection devices like Taser.

The wide array of products available for viewing are impressive and with so many booths and competitors vying for the attention of the buyers in attendance, exhibitors are using more and more popular celebrities to inhabit their booths in an effort to distinguish themselves as what’s hot. While these duties have long been the realm of television stars or popular musicians, now becoming more and more viable options are the professional athletes who compete in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

The world of mainstream personal consumer electronics is extremely competitive, being able to distinguish your brand among countless competitors can prove a difficult task, but companies with demographics that fall into the coveted 18 to 35 year old range have a new weapon, Professional Mixed Martial Artists. MMA has more than established itself as one of the foremost leaders in grabbing the attention of the male 18 to 35 year old audience and it is no longer the best kept secret in the business of marketing and promotion.

This fact was apparent at CES this year more than ever. Companies like Boost Mobile and S1 Audio were among the vast outstretched lanes booths laced with competing companies, yet the line to enter their booths were visibly longer than their neighbors thanks to the appearances of UFC superstars Randy Couture and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.

CES 2009: Randy Couture, Ray Sefo, Gray MaynardLines formed with scores of people waiting patiently to have their pictures snapped with the two former champs, Jackson in the Boost Mobile booth and Couture in the S1 Audio booth along with K-1 Champ Ray Sefo, Gray Maynard and Tyson Griffin.

The undeniable appeal the sport has and its relationship with its target demographic has become not just an affinity but maybe better described as an actual bond. This bond forged between fans and their favorite MMA combatant was identified some time ago by the Mitek Corporation better known as MTX Audio who has been actively involved in sponsoring fighters in the UFC for over 3 years now.

“The new wave of marketing is embedded marketing” says Jason Genet of LG Sports Marketing, the person responsible for selling the idea to MTX initially. “With more and more big box stores eliminating small distributors, direct marketing to customers in retail outlets and simply putting MTX Audio products on the shelves at Best Buy or Wal Mart and crossing your fingers was no longer a realistic option. Identifying the customer who buys MTX and marketing to them directly through something they are passionate about like mixed martial arts is the wave of the future because that passion for the sport manifests itself in the form of sales to that audience who now associate MTX with MMA”

MTX has immersed itself so much in the sport that it played host to the second annual MTX Fight Night at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in conjunction with its stint at CES, an invitation only event held for 1500 buyers and distributors of MTX. The 8 fight professional fight card included UFC stars such as TUF 7 member Cale Yarborough and TUF season 3 semi-finalist Jessie Forbes.

What captures the interests of the sought after Male 18 to 35 year old demographic has long been an enigma since marketing began. When identified it is only effective for short periods of time before it suddenly evolves into something else, sending marketing executives and advertising agencies scrambling to identify the hot new thing that has managed to capture their audience’s attention this week.

A select few companies within mainstream corporate America have been able to identify what currently does the trick and have invested millions of dollars in the sport of mixed martial arts, a fact that has placed the sport on a fast track to mainstream acceptance.

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