Clever Sponsorship Combined With Clever Athlete

He’s the man of the hour at the minute in Ireland, a UFC fighter that his gripped the nation with this charisma, sharp wit and exemplary performance within his chosen profession. Conor McGregor understands how to market his brand, that’s for sure. Sponsorship has played a key role in his commercial value and evolution of his story to date through Irish brands like tying in with his Irish identity and his macho, red-blooded wit, to brands like sports nutrition company Muscle Pharm being more synonymous with his driven and renowned scientific approach to his craft.

Recently before his big win in Boston over German Dennis Siver, his coach John Kavanagh spoke on popular US sports podcast ‘The MMA Hour’. He made reference at one point to Conor’s excellent knowledge of sponsorship: “Even the other day we were in the airport, we were coming over here. We were talking and something came up about sponsorship deals. He just rattled off the difference between an endorsement only deal or getting equity in the company deal and all these words that I really don’t think he could have defined twelve months ago or eighteen months ago. But that’s how he’s been about everything”. It’s clear that this is an extremely intelligent sportsman who is learning fast about the business and sponsorship side of his career.

Digital Activation

An interesting way Irish sponsor have promoted McGregor’s compelling brand has been from a social media and YouTube perspective. In the build up to McGregor’s latest fight in Boston, filmed a fly on the wall mini documentary series following Conor’s movements and training in the build up to the big show. The quality video production coupled with the heavyweight social media clout of Joe resulted in big engagement figures on social media and views on YouTube. McGregor also regularly Tweets messages related to his sponsors every week.

When the UFC announced a major sponsorship deal with Reebok McGregor was one of the first UFC superstars to sign their own exclusive deal with the company. He also has deals with Monster and SQOR, amongst many others. McGregors dynamic approach to fighting coupled with his brash attitude and admittedly witty social media posts, have resulted in huge potential rewards for companies willing to sponsor him.

Another interesting digital ploy in terms of native advertising was seen in the week leading up to his recent bout in Boston. Irish digital media outlet got McGregor’s trainer on as a guest writer on their well-read publication, who weighed in with his preview and prediction of how he thought the fight would go for Irish readers. That particular piece of content was sponsored on The Score’s website by Setanta Sports. A brilliantly crafted, natural piece of content from a trusted thought leader, as close as you can get to Conor’s brand (his coach) in the field pertaining to the reader’s interest. An online marketing masterstroke, if you will.

How McGregor’s Polarizing Brand Will Help Sponsors In The Future

McGregor has now been signed by major sports brand Reebok and in the words of the man himself:He could very well be right. Although it may seem unconventional for a professional athlete to congratulate the endorser on the deal, that’s just how Conor McGregor rolls. Relevant brands associated with this juggernaut media sensation could very well reap huge rewards in the future. When dealing with such a precocious talent like McGregor who is as media savvy as they come, it almost seems like the most mutually beneficial sponsorship arrangement both parties could ever hope for. McGregor gets financially rewarded as well as tactically marketed and the sponsor gets targeted, massive exposure.

McGregors magnetic nature and brash attitude allow a freedom rarely seen in athletes sponsorship deals. Across his Twitter and Instagram pages he has over a million followers, essentially crafting himself into a digital sponsorship powerhouse.McGregor`s outlook shields him when he tangles with controversial subjects. Its hard to imagine Wayne Rooney getting away with calling a reported injury to an opponent as “a little period pain” but for McGregor it works.

There’s no doubt that everyone and anyone will want a piece of this lucrative McGregor branded pie. He recently was quoted about wanting to throw a freshly baked pie at a potential opponent for his perceived naivety in McGregor’s eyes. Perhaps the real pie on McGregor’s mind at the moment is a financial one and with an impressive performance that saw him grab another win bonus


About Author: Niall is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Boxing News and Views and can be found on Twitter @BoxingNAV