Ultimate Fighting Championship

Building fame for world’s fastest growing spectator sport.

Overview

Ultimate Fighting Championship, the world’s number one Mixed Martial Arts organisation, appointed Taylor Herring on a 12 month brief to launch the sport in the UK.

Taylor Herring’s brief was to position Ultimate Fighting Championship as the world’s fastest growing spectator sport and to communicate the evolution of the sport to the UK media.

This also involved a dedicated and ongoing educational process to turn around commonly held outdated journalist perceptions of UFC which held the sport to be a “gladiatorial and barbaric”.

The Taylor Herring team were tasked with communicating the fact that Ultimate Fighting had now successfully evolved into a multi-million pound registered sport with a host of rules and regulations – all of which now mean that the sport is not only more exciting than boxing but also statistically safer.

At the beginning of the year, UFC announced the first date in the UK since 2002’s ‘Brawl in the Hall.’ A sell out UK event at the Manchester MEN Arena in April was followed by further record breaking, sell out events at the Belfast Odyssey Arena in June, the London O2 Arena in September and Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena in January of 2008.

Campaign


We kicked off in February with a press conference in Manchester to announce that UFC would come live from the MEN Arena two months later. Initial interest was limited however our key hooks – that the Ultimate Fighting Championship superseded Boxing in terms of gate receipts and pay per view audiences with a huge worldwide audience enabled us to place a series of great positioning pieces from The Daily Telegraph to Arena Magazine.

The third series of The Ultimate Fighter, the hugely successful reality show spin off, created a British winner, the Lancashire born Michael Bisping. We capitalised on his victory with various National and regional press interviews. To promote the Manchester event, we took a number of key publications (Daily Telegraph, Maxim, Manchester Evening News and the Sunday Express) to Las Vegas with Michael Bisping to flag up the arrival of UFC in the UK.

The Manchester Event at the MEN Arena was a sell out and broke gate and merchandising records for similar events. We ensured a number of key press and high profile celebrities attended the event from Cristiano Ronaldo to Wayne Rooney, Girls Aloud and Coronation Street stars – all of which helped to ensure next day coverage.

The Manchester Event was followed by further sell out events in Belfast, London and Newcastle – all of which broke gate and merchandising records at the respective venues.

Raising the profile of the sport’s key fighters has been a key part of the Taylor Herring brief and the team have facilitated UK interviews with a number of different fighters. Michael Bisping soon became a spokesperson for UFC in the UK, we have also set up interviews with two other British fighters, Paul Kelly and Paul Taylor as well as a number of international fighters; Rampage Jackson, Rich Franklin, Matt Hughes, Matt Serra, Mirko Cro Cop, Jens Pulver and Rashad Evans amongst others.

Our campaign has also built the profile of people behind the scenes including UFC President Dana White, UFC UK President Marshall Zelaznik, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner and the UFC ‘cutman’ Stitch.

Results

Taylor Herring delivered a high profile campaign to launch the sport in the UK helping to sell out four huge scale events and educating the British press and public on mixed martial arts.

The agency has secured ongoing weekly columns in two national newspapers and a dedicated page on The Sun Online to keep UK fans abreast of the full UFC sporting calendar – an initiative which has helped to maintain the sports profile between UK events.

A wide range of print coverage was achieved including great positioning pieces in The Daily Telegraph and The Independent.
Further features have followed in the likes of Arena, Maxim, Sunday Express, Daily Mail, The Observer, Nuts, Metro and the Daily Star Sunday. Michael Bisping was named one of “Sports New Heroes” by Arena Magazine in 2007.

UFC President Dana White has been utilized for a number of high profile National radio opportunities prior to each of the UK events including a phone in on Radio Five Live and interviews on Sky News Radio and Virgin Radio. Further broadcast coverage has included BBC One’s Inside Sport, the ITN Lunchtime News, Channel M, UTV, PA Broadcasting, BBC Radio London, Talksport and various regional radio.

Regional press has also been plentiful with features secured in each of the locations visited. We have also capitalized on all British fighters and ensured they are constantly featured in their local papers.

Taylor Herring’s campaign for UFC helped to turn around perceptions of the sport in the UK, led to four sell out stadium events and reached in excess of 200 million readers, viewers and listeners.