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The Fight for Sponsorship Dollars

The Fight for Sponsorship Dollars

Saturday night will provide a rare moment in sport sponsorship; big name brands are paying top dollar to associate with a boxing match. Despite boxing’s steady decline in recent years, tomorrow night’s Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight will command a record audience. It is predicted that the match will generate over $400 million in revenue which would make it the highest grossing match of all-time. With that, several brands will be looking to cash in on the massive exposure.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao are two of the most recognizable fighters in boxing. Each has proven themselves as the best in the sport, however until tomorrow they have never faced each other. The long awaited fight has stopped the sports and marketing world in its tracks. Boxing fans will surely be tuning in, but the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight has crossover appeal; it will also attract the casual fan and non-boxing fan. There has been a six year build up to this fight with the negotiations always falling apart. The six year build up has incidentally created that much more of a buzz around the fight. With that extra buzz the fight has now been pushed into the mainstream giving it the feeling of a must-see event.

Boxing Sponsorship 101

Boxing is seen as violent sport giving it a very limited appeal. Current sponsors are mostly limited to boxing specific brands. There are rare cases when a mainstream brand will sponsor a fighter or match. With this in mind MKTG examined three possible ways to enter into boxing sponsorship.

1. Sponsoring a major organization: Boxing has four major organizations which sanction championship fights, the WBC, IBF, WBA, and WBO. The current sponsors of these organizations are mostly boxing promoters who would not be known to many outside the boxing world. Former boxer Oscar De La Hoya’s promotion company, Golden Boy Promotions is a current sponsor of the WBA. Since boxing is becoming more and more of a niche sport, entering into this type of sponsorship would primarily expose your brand to the hard core boxing fans.

2. Sponsoring a fighter: With very few boxers left that are recognizable by name, sponsoring a fighter is usually left to the boxing specific brands. In the cases where a boxer generates a wide appeal, they can attract more mainstream brands. 

3. Sponsoring a fight: Boxing matches are announced months ahead of time and it can be predicted which fights will have the greatest appeal. This will give sponsors the opportunity to invest in boxing on a match-by-match basis, associating their brand with the fights they believe will drive the most value. 

Sponsors of The Mayweather-Pacquiao Fight

The match has already achieved record sponsorship dollars bringing in $13.2 million with several high profile brands looking to capitalize off the large audience. Mexican beer company Tectate outbid rival beer brand Corona ($5.6 million to $5.2 million) to be the official beer of the match. Movie studios The Weinstien Company and Paramount Pictures/Skydance Productions will be promoting their summer blockbusters Mission Impossible, Terminator and Southpaw. The Mexican tourism board will be promoting their “Live It to Believe It” campaign and Philippine based Telecom Company, Smart communications will have a presence during the fight. 

Tale of the Sponsorship Tape

While Pacquaio and Mayweather are both outstanding in the ring, they are polar opposites outside the ring. Through his charity work and humble attitude, Pacquiao has created an image that is highly attractive to prospective sponsors. Coming from the Philippines gives him a large international following. Pacquiao is also highly active in politics and is viewed as a man of the people. Pacquiao has landed endorsements with major brands like Nike who produce a Pacquiao clothing line and signature shoe. This is very rare for a boxer as Pacquiao is currently the only boxer on Nike`s athlete roster. In addition to Nike, Pacquiao also has deals with Nestle, Foot Locker and Wonderful Pistachio. During the fight Pacquiao will have six brands with space on his trunks which will net him an extra $2.25 million.

Mayweather is a brash and cocky fighter. He is very polarizing which causes sponsors to proceed with caution. Throughout his career he has also had many troubles with the law. Mayweather has faced multiple charges of domestic abuse and battery against women. This has left Mayweather to invest in himself as many brands have shied away from the fighter. In the ring Mayweather wears Reebok shoes but does not have an official relationship with the company. Todd Krinsky, Reebok's global vice president of classics and combat training had this to say on Mayweather, “While we are not official partners at present, Floyd has been a long-time friend of the brand and he has worn Reebok footwear in the ring for years".

In 2007 Mayweather started his own promotion company TMT (The Money Team) which also now sells apparel. Despite Mayweather's challenges with his personal brand, this upcoming fight will provide a peak awareness moment. Fantasy sport company FanDuel, will be capitalizing on the opportunity and has bought space on Mayweather's trunks during the fight. 

MKTG has broken down the brand appeal of both fighters:

While the betting line for tomorrow's fight favours Mayweather, a greater amount of sponsors are betting their dollars on Pacquiao. With the image he has created, brands are confident that associating with Pacquiao will be more consistent with their values. This is a clear case where sponsors look at the whole package when sponsoring an athlete as performance is just one part of the equation. 

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