MTX Audio Talks Fighter Sponsorships

October 28, 2009

Ben Henderson’s recent victory over Donald Cerrone to win the WEC interim Lightweight Title was a great moment in the career for Henderson and a great win for his sponsor, MTX Audio. During the fight, which is widely regarded as a fight of the year candidate; many noted the numerous logos worn by Cerrone. On the other hand, Henderson’s MTX Audio logos were clearly visible, unobstructed by any other competing logos.

While most sponsors (e.g., Tapout) directly relate to MMA, MTX Audio’s main business is car audio. MMAPayout.com had the opportunity to ask Joe Trentacoste, Marketing Manager for MTX Audio, about its marketing strategy in MMA.

JC: Why did MTX Audio get interested in MMA?

MTX: MTX Audio got interested in MMA because the owner of our company, Loyd Ivey, and a lot of the employees at MTX were big fans of the sport. Loyd felt that MMA was something he’d like to get involved with and would be a great way to introduce the MTX brand to a passionate audience. Helping people accomplish their goals in a sport that you love was great and being able to tie in the brand made it a no-brainer and MTX hasn’t looked back since.

JC: I understand you sponsor several MMA fighters in UFC/WEC?  Who are they and how do you pick your fighters to sponsor?

MTX: The MTX MMA Team supports Benson Henderson, Efrain Escudero, Ryan Kelly, Dale Hartt, Danny Martinez, and Edgar Garcia who are all veterans of the WEC or UFC but we do not limit our sponsorship to solely fighters in these big shows. We also support martial artists like Hillary Williams who recently won 3rd place in her first ever ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club) appearance as a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Support from MTX enabled her to travel the world and grapple with the best to prepare her for this competition. These are all MTX MMA Team fighters, but MTX also supports other fighters on occasion such as Shane Carwin who will be fighting Brock Lesnar at UFC 106, Clay Guida, Nate Diaz, Elliot Marshall, Joachim Hansen, Kaitlyn Young, and Thales Leites.

Like MTX, which Loyd Ivey founded in his garage over thirty years ago, MTX MMA believes in helping up-and-coming fighters accomplish their dreams from the ground up by molding them into champions rather than “buying” a champion.  We are lucky to work with a solid MMA management company that Loyd co-founded called Magnetic Marketing Associates. His partner, Jason Genet, works through direct contact with fighters around the world via our social networking site for MTX MMA, www.mtxmma.com.

JC: Can you tell me the range of salary that your sponsored fighters make?

MTX: Fighters on the MTX MMA Team are supported so they can focus on becoming the best fighter they can be. Whether it is a salary to offset their living expenses so they can train full time, a place to live, a car to drive, or whatever, MTX does what it can to allow its fighters to be 100% focused on accomplishing their dream to be an MMA Champion. Fighters are provided with MTX MMA clothing

JC: Are there benchmarks that the fighters must meet for them to continue to be on the MTX Audio payroll? (e.g., Do they have to have X amount of fights per year and X amount of wins)

MTX: We do not require that our fighters reach any sort of benchmarks in order to retain our support.  We realize that the sport is exploding and there are a lot of fighters getting into the sport and that life happens and a fighter may have other commitments that come up that they need to attend to. We only ask that they hold themselves to a high standard and continue to work hard whether they have an upcoming fight or not. We ask that they represent our brand the way that they would want us to support them.

JC: What is MTX Audio’s strategy in reaching out to MMA fans? Is there a certain audience you are trying to reach? Was this based on research or were you just MMA fans?

MTX: Our strategy in reaching out to MMA fans is to not only generate interest in our brand but also to be a part of one of the coolest sports in the world.  It is really our pleasure to be associated with the warriors that get into the cage or on the mat and put it all on the line every time.  It is undeniable that MMA shares a similar demographic to car audio and we believe that like our fighters, MMA fans will come to know that our audio products, like our fighters, are built from the ground up. Unlike other brands, we aren’t a company that buys its products from a company overseas. We design, engineer, manufacture, service, and sell our own products.

JC: How much public relations/publicity does MTX Audio get out of sponsoring MMA fighters?

MTX: You can’t just put your logo on the shorts of a fighter on a UFC PPV and expect the MMA demographic to visit your website and buy your products. MMA is a lot like a brotherhood, you are either in it or you’re not. The ultimate goal is helping our fighters achieve their dreams. If we do everything we can to help, that’s all we can do, the rest is on the fighter. But so far, we’ve got a good record for helping that happen. The publicity comes naturally. There are times when our network of customers around the country invites our fighters to an event at their stores to sign autographs and meet with MMA fans from their city and our fighters are always happy to do this for us because they are good people and we have mutual appreciation for what each side is offering the other.

JC: What is MTX Audio looking for when they sponsor a fighter?

MTX: MTX looks for fighters that are dedicated and determined are willing to put the time in to become their best. We want to help people that have the skills to be a contender but just need that little extra help. They have to be extremely driven and know exactly what they want.

JC: Is there an exclusivity of sponsorship?  Are the fighters limited to wearing MTX Audio gear when they fight?

MTX: We are generally exclusive with our fighters but we basically take each situation and address it individually based on the fighters’ needs. Of course we want to have as much branding on our fighters as possible but ultimately, its about supporting what is best for these fighters and when situations come up which are good for our fighters, we try to work out deals that can help them. We know that what’s good for our fighters is usually good for us too.

JC: Can you share with us if the marketing strategy is working?

MTX: We are in the third year of our affiliation with MMA.  From a branding perspective, our sponsorships have been very successful.  Millions of viewers have been exposed to the MTX Audio brand and logo during live and televised events. From the human perspective it has been extremely successful. In only three years we have helped three different fighters train to get to the UFC and helped two fighters become champions in the WEC. That is the most rewarding part, seeing these athletes realize their dreams and knowing that MTX Audio helped them get there. MMA fans are very loyal and very smart. We feel that by supporting the sport and being genuine in our efforts, the rest will come by itself. We love MMA just like our customers. MMA has become part of the MTX culture.

Payout Perspective:

For an MMA fighter, sponsorship is important to supplementing their income and allowing the fighter to focus on training full-time. Based on its passion for the sport, MTX Audio sponsors fighters. It has partnered with a marketing agency to work on the sponsorship deals so it is not like they entered into the sport blindly.  It is interesting that MTX Audio decided to get into MMA due to its personal interests in the sport more so than its fit into a marketing plan. While it does make sense that males in their 20s and early 30s are a target market for a car audio manufacturer, it was not the primary reason.

As discussed here, sponsors look for a return on its investment (ROI) when it puts its logo on a fighter’s shorts, shirt and hat. Most viewers will recall only 1 or 2 logos worn by the fighters. MTX Audio’s exclusive sponsorship of Henderson paid off. Not only did Henderson win the WEC’s interim Light Heavyweight title but the fight lasted the full 5 rounds allowing the visibility of the MTX Audio logos.

One Response to “MTX Audio Talks Fighter Sponsorships”

  1. MMA Fan on October 28th, 2009 2:44 PM

    Great article. I like the way they focus on having exclusive sponsorships.

    I read a post a while back ( http://www.sponsorpitch.com/articles/598 ) regarding competitive sponsors and how frequently they exist in MMA. I agree with the Payout opinion that Henderson’s exclusive sponsorship paid off big for MTX regarding ROI, their brand awareness, and brand association.

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