Sponsorship Spotlight: XBox 360

February 22, 2011

MMA Payout had the opportunity to contact Mary Renouf of the Global Brand Marketing department of XBox for a Q&A about its recent sponsorship of Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson at UFC 126.

Johnson defeated Kid Yamamoto in the second match ever aired on UFC’s Facebook page.

MP: How did you decide to sponsor Demetrious Johnson? Was it in part due to the proximity of Johnson’s gym (AMC Pankration in Kirkland, WA) to the Microsoft campus?

XBox: When Xbox decides to get behind a person or brand, we spend a significant amount of time getting to know who they are on a personal and professional basis. We want to ensure their brand aligns with our Xbox brand and values. Demetrious Johnson (DJ) made sense on many levels – he participates in a sport that many of our core gaming consumers enjoy, he is a core gamer himself, spending a lot of his free time playing Xbox and is also a local! Xbox is a big supporter of Seattle (Washington) athletics – we sponsor the Sounders, Seahawks, Storm and Mariners. We don’t just look at these being sponsorships, but more importantly as “partnerships” that support the local area. DJ’s sponsorship fits into our local athlete support plans as he grew up, resides and trains in the Northwest.

We actually asked our consumers ahead of time for input, posting a question on Facebook about their interest in Mixed Martial Arts and in “Mighty Mouse.” What we learned is that our fans were really excited about Xbox getting behind the sport and such an exciting fighter who continues to succeed even with his “underdog” status. Given that his brand and values aligned very closely with ours, we felt he was a great ambassador for the sport of MMA and Xbox.

MP: Did his reps contact Xbox?

XBox: DJ’s team did contact us regarding some possibilities, and after spending time getting to know him, we thought this would be a great partnership but weren’t quite certain when we would release this announcement.

MP: Was the sponsorship planned? Did you target Johnson, or was the plan to sponsor a UFC fighter and Johnson was available?

Xbox: We specifically selected DJ for this partnership. Blindly sponsoring an individual just for the sake of getting in front of a potential target audience isn’t something that we take lightly as our brand values are very important to us. We have reviewed a few other UFC fighters in the past and determined it wasn’t the right time or fit to jump into this area.

MP: Did the sponsorship occur before or after it was known that Johnson would be fighting on air on Facebook?

XBox: The decision to announce the sponsorship occurred after the UFC confirmed the Johnson fight would be streamed on Facebook. Xbox is a big player in the social space, and we are always looking for ways to reach our target market within these networks. We felt it was a great way for us to give our 6.5M Facebook fans a chance to watch the fight in an environment in which they are already comfortable. Knowing this was only the second time ever that the UFC would broadcast a fight live on Facebook, we thought it was a great opportunity to keep our brand on the cutting edge of digital entertainment.

MP: What are the terms of the sponsorship (a year, a number of fights, etc.)?

XBox: We typically don’t share sponsorship information publically. We do feel DJ has tremendous potential inside and outside of the Octagon, and we look forward to being part of the journey.

MP: What does the sponsorship entail? (T-shirts, signage, appearances, ads, etc?)

XBox: For the first event (UFC 126), we supported DJ with promotion of the event, inclusion in our social communities and T-shirts for him and his team. In the future, you can look for DJ in other Xbox experiences such as digital programs, live events, etc.

MP: Does Xbox 360 foresee sponsoring other fighters?

XBox: It’s really too early to say at this point. We have spent time learning about the sport and its fighters and are still assessing what makes the most sense for our brand and what meets the needs of our consumers.

MP: How about sponsorship in the UFC or other MMA organizations?

XBox: We are focused right now on DJ and potentially a few other fighters that fit our brand and target audience. We don’t necessarily see this carrying over to the overall organizations, but we will closely monitor the effectiveness of these programs to determine the best direction for the future.

MP: Does Xbox plan on doing any promotions for the UFC Fight Night in Seattle in March?

XBox: We don’t have anything planned at this point in time.

MP: How does sponsoring Johnson advance your marketing strategy to your key demographics?

XBox: Our core Xbox consumers love action-packed experiences, both in game and in real life. They also have above average use of the Internet as an entertainment source. As we are always looking for new ways to offer this part of our fan base the chance to do both – enjoy a great entertainment experience in the digital space – we viewed this as a very positive opportunity.

MP: What has been the response to the sponsorship of Johnson? Positive, negative, too soon to tell?

Xbox: Our fans are a very vocal group – in fact, our brand has one of the highest levels of fan engagement of all brands on Facebook. That being said, we were very pleased with the reception of this program. Within thirty minutes of announcing the partnership, we had hundreds of comments on our Facebook post, including things such as “The greatest sport ever is being sponsored by the greatest game system ever!” and “Thanks for making great games and supporting awesome fighters like DJ.” They are definitely clambering for more activation in the MMA space.

5 Responses to “Sponsorship Spotlight: XBox 360”

  1. Matt C. on February 22nd, 2011 12:51 PM

    Great interview. Look forward to see what they do in the future with MMA.

  2. Warren M Jackson on February 22nd, 2011 7:50 PM

    Well done Jason.

  3. Sam on October 15th, 2013 5:13 PM

    Xbox sponsorship

  4. chandler moles on June 24th, 2014 11:09 AM

    umm i think i need this sponsorship for support andhelp getting my name out there

  5. chandler moles on June 24th, 2014 11:09 AM

    umm i think i need this sponsorship for support andhelp getting my name out there

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