MMA Sponsor News

July 29, 2010

Nutritional supplement company MusclePharm has announced the signing of an exclusive distribution deal with PSI Distribution in Australia and New Zealand worth an estimated $2 million.

“Securing an exclusive partnership with PSI in the Australian market is a strategic move in taking advantage of the exposure the UFC partnership has created for MusclePharm,” MusclePharm Executive Vice President Leonard Armenta said. “We hope to leverage the popularity of the sport, expanding our distribution networks, resulting in increased brand awareness and sales. The UFC audience shows the passionate and loyal qualities that we are targeting for our products.”

 

Australia is home to the second-fastest sellout in UFC history, as more than 16,000 tickets were sold on the first day for UFC 110 in February and is the third largest pay per view country for UFC events. It quickly has made Australia an annual destination for UFC events and that surge in popularity has helped grow the MusclePharm brand, which has aligned itself closely with the UFC and the sport of MMA.

Suffer MMA, the apparel company that created Frank Mir’s UFC 111 walk-out t-shirt, has finalized its brand launch plans for August 7th – the same day as UFC 117.

The launch will take place at 3 p.m. in Tito Ortiz’s Punishment MMA Store and Frank Mir will be signing autographs.

 

The launch will be followed up with Frank Mir and SUFFER hosting a UFC 117 party starting at 6 p.m. in the IOWA THEATER & PORCH DOG’S located within Hooters.

MMAPayout.com has made a long overdue update to its Sponsor Blue Book.

Payout Perspective:

It’s interesting that the MusclePharm press release highlights its partnership with the UFC when MusclePharm’s deal is actually with the WEC. I tend to think the VP is simply using UFC as a synonym for MMA, but it’s an overstatement nonetheless.

[Pardon this brief tangent, but I’m intrigued by the UFC/MMA dichotomy. The sport is probably better known as UFC, which puts it in the same position as other popular brands that have managed to name their own categories (Kleenex or WD-40 come to mind). Sometimes there’s a risk that the ubiquitous use of a brand name can lead to the loss of its trademark – like Aspirin or Kerosene, for example – but so long as the UFC continues to protect against the broader uses of its intellectual property, it should be fine.]

I’ve also begun to wonder what’s happening in the UFC’s supplement category. BSN currently holds the rights as official supplement provider, but seemingly does not own exclusivity: competitors like MP, Nutrabolics, Bodybuilder.com, and more, all see their brands enter the Octagon. This differs greatly from the approach in other categories like beer or energy drinks – there’s no way we’d see Coors Light or Rockstar in the Octagon – although it’s not dissimilar from the apparel category which Tapout owns.

If I’m correct, the BSN-UFC deal has just under a year left. I wouldn’t be surprised if, at the end of the deal, MusclePharm made a large bid for the UFC’s rights and also paid for exclusivity. MusclePharm has made a point of leveraging its association with MMA to build its own brand; I can’t say the same for BSN.

Unlike Tapout in the apparel category, BSN simply hasn’t done a whole lot with its sponsorship benefits: some activation that was paid for as part of the deal (PPV “Finish First” segments and UFC.com ads), but nothing on its own other than the periodic ad in Men’s Health or like magazines. We haven’t seen much, if any, unique activation such as point of sale material, fan contests, digital content, commercials, etc.

What’s the point of paying in the millions for the rights fee, then?

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