The business of GSP

November 16, 2012

USA Today (via MMA Junkie) has a feature on the earning power of Georges St. Pierre in lieu of his return to the Octagon Saturday night.  In looking at GSP, we glance at the current landscape of UFC champions and the potential for others to achieve the business success of GSP.

The article details the business of Georges St. Pierre and answers the question of how he’s been able to retain and obtain new sponsorship deals despite being out with a knee injury for 14 months.  Notably, the mix of his clean image and Hollywood agents have enabled him to secure some top deals for an MMA star.


Payout Perspective:

The article is a nice update on GSP’s star power and how his CAA agents have helped him secure blue chip sponsors.  You may recall a year ago that GSP dropped long time manager Shari Spencer and retained Hollywood agents, CAA, for his marketing needs.  Two years ago, the NY Times also detailed his uncertainty with the mainstream meet and greets.

Fast forward to now and the article details GSPs new sponsors:  Google, Coca Cola and Bacardi.  He also has retained Under Armour and signed on with MMA equipment maker Hayabusa.  He also has a book deal for an autobiography/philosophy.

The article points to GSP’s clean and gentleman-like image as the reasons for his success in garnering sponsorships.  Despite the initial concern of having an MMA star endorsing products for a brand,

Looking at the UFC champions, is there any others that could garner so many sponsors? Recently, JDS signed with Nike Brasil, Jon Jones signed a global deal with Nike and Anderson Silva has Nike, Burger King among other Brazilian blue chip sponsors.  Dominick Cruz obtained a sponsorship with Phoenix International Speedway.  However, Cruz and Jose Aldo have been injured and the lighter weight classes usually do not garner big sponsorships.  Of course, there is Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson who probably has the most envied sponsorship (among gamers):  Microsoft’s XBox.

Carlos Condit is the interim middleweight champion at this point but a relative unknown.  He has a clean image and a family man which has been outlined if you are watching the Countdown shows.  If he beats GSP Saturday night he too could secure blue chip sponsors.

Which leaves us with Benson Henderson.  Like GSP, he has a squeaky clean image and has never been one to be in trouble with the law.  He’s doesn’t go to clubs so he won’t be in a compromising position on TMZ and reads books for fun. The one issue, if one may call it that, is that Henderson is a die hard Christian and professes his faith after each post-match interview.  This may put off sponsors that want to remain religion neutral to appeal to the biggest population.  Its hard to tell someone to suppress their beliefs especially when they believe its a reason why they are succeeding.

The other factor here is representation.  GSP’s agency, CAA, represents Hollywood stars as well as athletes in the NBA, NFL and MLB.  So, there are existing relationships between blue chip sponsors and the agency.  While this may not be the dominating factor that is getting GSP these sponsors, it might be a reason.  Its not to say that someone without the cache couldn’t go into Coca Cola and negotiate a deal for their fighter but CAA has the contacts and the experience to do it.

3 Responses to “The business of GSP”

  1. Mossman on November 19th, 2012 8:27 AM

    Jason, you also fail to mention that CAA actually knows what the hell they are doing to leverage a “brand” like GSP’s and drive sponsor value. This is where 99% of “fighter sponsorships” fail. Sure there are severe handcuffs on how a sponsor can derive value from the sponsorship of an athlete, especially without a league deal with the UFC (considering they always have their hand in the brand’s pocket to allow passthrough on fighters, etc.), but CAA actually knows how to appropriately leverage an athletes cache and brand for a desirable sponsorship… vs. just slapping a logo on some shorts and a banner.

    And for the record Xbox/DJ program is because he has pals at Microsoft corporate and they run it through the “social media team”. If you ask the actual sponsorship team at Xbox about it… they have no idea what you are talking about. Good to have friends in high places.

  2. codemaster on November 19th, 2012 9:03 PM

    ” Despite the initial concern of having an MMA star endorsing products for a brand,”

    You just end the sentence with a comma.

    “Looking at the UFC champions, is there any others that could garner so many sponsors?”

    Are you even reading what you write? Let me help.

    Looking at the UFC champions, are there any others who could garner so many sponsors?

    Tip: Use ‘who’ instead of ‘that’ when referring to people.

    “Its not to say that someone without the cache couldn’t go into Coca Cola…”

    This should be It’s as it is a contraction for It is.

    I suppose you mean cachet, not cache–but the sentence still does not make sense on a number of levels.

  3. Jason Cruz on November 20th, 2012 9:23 PM

    Hey Codemaster,

    Thanks for the tips and thanks for reading. I do try my best to self-edit but since I do most of these posts late at night or early morning due to job and kids I am bleary-eyed at times. I will ensure to try my best if not for anyone else, for you.

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