EA Sports Expands Vision Of Mixed Martial Arts


With titles like "Tiger Woods PGA Golf," "NCAA Football" and "Madden Football," EA Sports is accustomed to marketing its games from a top licensing position. But when it comes to its latest sports title, "MMA," the company had to operate under a different set of guidelines.

THQ, a rival game company, holds the licensing for UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship, which uses Mixed Martial Arts). So rather than rely on endorsements and association, EA -- along with its advertising agency Heat -- is stressing the intensity and training it takes to become a Mixed Martial Arts (which combines judo, jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai kickboxing and boxing) fighter.

"UFC is one take on the bigger sport of MMA," Heat client services director Aaron Lang tells Marketing Daily. "The strategy here is showing a bigger picture of MMA and its global aspects. It's not just the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. It's learning judo in Japan and jiu-jitsu in Brazil."



Accordingly, a 30-second television spot that made its debut this week showcases two fighters squaring off, and then taking their bout to other exotic locales. The commercial ends with the fighters appearing in the Strikeforce league arena, with the tagline "The world of MMA has never been bigger."

"One of the great aspects of this game is the training," Lang says. "You get to learn all these unique styles in all these exotic locations. The intention of the spot is to showcase that."

The campaign is targeting males 12-34, with the commercial running on traditionally male-skewing lifestyle programming (such as Comedy Central and MTV), sports and fight-specific cable shows. Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore. is EA's media agency.

The television commercial will be supplemented with a robust advertising campaign. EA has also partnered with Sherdog.com, a mixed martial arts Web site, to create a marketing program called the "MMA Exchange," Lang says. The program takes four up-and-coming MMA fighters, pairs them with more experienced and well-known fighters and sends them around the world to train.

"They're all learning the styles of the particular regions," Lang says. "It takes that notion that the world of MMA is big and diverse and goes into more depth."

The teams' experiences will be chronicled throughout the training process, and the four apprentice fighters will square off in an undercard event in December. Sherdog will stream that event live on Dec. 4.

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