Roland Pokornyik

Three PR Lessons from the Mayweather vs. McGregor Fight

By: Roland Pokornyik | September 18, 2017 | 
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Three PR Lessons from the Mayweather vs. McGregor FightShall we talk boxing to spice up the week?

The sports world is still reeling from the excitement generated by the recent “money fight” featuring Mayweather vs. McGregor.

It was the biggest fight in combat sports history.

Marketing enthusiasts should be interested in how Showtime Sports and its agencies managed to pull this off.

Some 50 million people in the U.S. watched the fight, with the price of a ticket at T-Mobile arena soaring as high as $10,000.

Floyd Mayweather reportedly walked home $100 million richer, while Connor McGregor, for his part, went home $30 million richer.

The strategies employed by Showtime Sports and its agencies in ensuring such a huge ROI, even though not entirely novel, are worth mentioning.

If anything, they serve as a wake-up call to marketing and PR professionals who may have dismissed some very fundamental building blocks of our industry in pursuit of new and trendy concepts.

PR Lessons #1: TV Advertising is Not Dead Yet 

And it won’t be for a long time.

So let’s face it, television advertising is still relevant.

We witnessed, perhaps in its most lethal form, how it complements digital marketing by pushing the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight to almost every home in the U.S. and the entire sporting world at large.

The evidence is in the record-breaking pay-per-view sales, currently estimated to be five million subscribers at $99 per TV; millions paid $100 to stream it live on official websites, apps, and of course, those other 2.93 million who viewed it on pirated links.

These breath-taking figures only reaffirm the success of running digital marketing and TV advertising hand-in-hand.

Digital marketing, indeed, becomes more powerful when seamlessly complemented by TV advertising.

The brand messaging of the “money fight” was uniform, with a clear call to action on all platforms.

Mayweather and McGregor (both adept at the use of social media) shared endless content about themselves in preparation for the fight.

Video clips featuring trash talk were broadcast on TV and went viral on the internet.

The message was always clear: You can’t afford to miss this, you need to subscribe, you need to bet, you need to be there!

Digital marketing might one day replace TV advertising.

But before that happens, why not harness the power of their union by running more effective and powerful marketing campaigns

PR Lessons #2: Marketing is About Stories

This has been hammered home in almost all topics related to marketing: Tell a story, a beautiful story, a story with a hero.

Showtime Sports made good use of this fundamental concept.

Who doesn’t like hearing the story of an underdog pushing through oblivion to dethrone an established order?

Trump and his team explored this narrative by getting elected to the White House.

And the organizers of the “money fight” made ample use of this narrative.

Connor McGregor, an ex-plumber who never fought as a professional boxer takes on a boxing legend who has remained unbeaten in 49 bouts.

That makes for a pretty incredible story-line, right?

The build-up to the fight was rarely just about boxing.

It was about the story of two men who made a name for themselves by going against the odds to become rich and famous.

It was about the story of their respective families supporting them through hard times.

And it was about dreaming big.

People love to see themselves in the image of heroes, and organizers gave them just that.

PR Lessons #3: Successful Marketing is a Team Effort

One obvious fact from the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight is that it was very successful—both in and outside the ring.

The success of the “money fight” was possible through an elaborate network of collaboration—a vast network of niche marketing agencies working together.

Media and marketing agencies, savvy in sports coverage, were invited to participate in the Mayweather vs. McGregor story; the story of the underdog.

But not every successful marketing team is in-house.

What makes up a great team is connections and the experience of knowing who to collaborate with:

  • A reputable PR agency that comes up with the narrative and takes care of publishers,
  • A SEM specialist—paid advertising makes a lot of sense for timely promotions,
  • An email marketing agency that knows how to create responsive email templates,
  • Social media influencers and marketers who keep the narrative active on social media.

Showtime Sports tapped into the very fundamentals of marketing.

They created the right story, they embraced the union of digital marketing and TV advertising, and they recognized the power of collaboration with various marketing players across the globe.

It is time to revisit marketing tactics in a simple but effective way—Create compelling stories that sell.

Of course, there may be some fundamentals the industry has been treating with levity, and perhaps, venting about privately.

Why not share your thoughts in the comments below?

About Roland Pokornyik


Roland Pokornyik is an online marketing expert working as the CEO & Co-founder of Chamaileon.io    and EDMdesigner.com - email-builder solutions helping marketers create responsive email templates.

  • Liz Reusswig

    Roland, what an epic analysis of an epic event! It was amazing how much widespread interest there was in this fight and how all of the lessons you mention played into that interest. The best part was in the end it was a pretty good fight and that may be the first step of the next one!

    • Completely agree. It was such a successful project financially for many that I’m sure there will be other events like this in near future.

  • Great post, Roland.

    Indeed, it’s all about storytelling and bringing the right teams together to make it happen. The result—an epic story.

    • Thanks for the kind words Corina! Yes, storytelling is still very powerful regardless which online or offline channels we use.

  • I love your emphasis on the importance of knowing who to collaborate with. You totally nailed it, what made this as successful with the integration of multiple platforms and media types for a perfect storm. It seemed like M vs. M was EVERYWHERE. And that’s a feat that can only be accomplished through integration

    • Yes, I believe that collaboration is the key for success not only in advertising but in business as well.

  • There were ads for the fight even on the horse racing channels (they were fairly good). I was rooting for Conor. Definitely agree with you about the storytelling. Great post.

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