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WATCH ON DEMAND FROM 25 Jan 2021
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Mayweather vs Pacquiao: the commercial and brand showdown

The long-anticipated showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao is smashing all revenue records in boxing, from commercial to broadcast. While eyes will be transfixed on the battle in the ring, advertisers and broadcasters will be battling to reap the commercial rewards from what is tipped to be the biggest fight in the sport.

From Pacquiao’s shorts to the conventional ad break, marketers will leave no stone unturned in their efforts to get their brands in front of the millions of boxing and casual fans expected to watch tomorrow's fight (2 May). More than three million are expected to purchase the fight on pay per view at $100 each in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico according to Repucom and $35m is predicted to be generated from international broadcast sales.

The astronomical levels of interest has meant brands have not thought twice about the potential of not recouping the millions they’ve parted with sponsor the event. Five brands have reportedly shelled out a combined $13.2m on exclusive rights to the match with Mexican brewer Tecate the fight’s biggest backer with a $5.6m deal, while Mexican Tourism Board, Filipino telecoms company Smart Communications, Paramount Pictures and The Weinstein Company also penned deals.

The pressure to be seen amid the barrage of punches has even taken brands to Pacquiao’s shorts, which have been secured by six sponsors for $2.3m.

With so many figures banded about, the fight’s commercial worth is best judged when compared to the premier one-off sporting event - The Super Bowl. This year saw 114.4 million viewers watch the game in the US alone and it generated an estimated $3.95bn in revenue for TV networks from national placements. Given that boxing has arguably more appeal than American football in many markets, observers have played up the fight’s place alongside other one-off sporting events.

Glenn Lovett, president of global strategy at Repucom, said: “The huge sums we are seeing from this fight are down to two simple factors; supply and demand. Mayweather and Pacquiao have been heralded as two of the best pound-for-pound fighters of a generation and finally, after five years in the waiting, fans will get to see them go toe-to-toe."

For some marketers, it will be as much about the battle between the two seasoned fighters in the right as it will be outside of it online.

Mayweather gained over 100,000 more mentions than Pacquiao in the last seven days, according to Brandwatch. Indeed, the American has added an additional 350,000 Facebook followers in the last month compared to Pacquiao’s 512,000, revealed Repucom. It is a somewhat surprising gap given the former’s domination of the build-up to the fight in terms of media coverage.

But looking at sentiment, Pacquiao wins the fight on social media.

More than 70 per cent of mentions that involved the Filipino were positive in comparison to 55 per cent of Mayweather’s mentions. Additionally, the hashtag #pacquaiowins has gained significantly more impressions (17210530) than #mayweatherwins (149382075).

It all points to the notion that people’s hearts are going for Pacquiao but their heads are going for Mayweather. The fight has been touted for five years, in which time awareness of the southpaw has doubled from around 30 per cent to 63 per cent in the US according to Repucom’s Celebrity DBI Index. In comparison, Mayweather is recognised by 67 per cent of people in his homeland.

However, Pacquaio is much more liked with appeal and trust score that outstrip Mayweather. His appeal and trust measures are 69.65 per cent and 63.12 per cent respectively, while his rival has 66.35 for appeal and 59.79 for trust.

“Boxing is a sport all about promotion and hype and these two fighters have put this match off for so long that this hype has now reached boiling point,” said Lovett. “For brands sponsoring them both, their two very different domineers offer two very separate endorsers.”

Pacquiao’s sponsorships have helped him to maintain a positive image. His willingness to make fun of himself in two Footlocker ads (see above) as well as the behind the scenes training videos from Nike have provided a more revealing account of the champion than the glitz and glamour of Mayweather’s efforts to court the media.

It’s no surprise that Pacquiao knocks out Mayweather when it comes to sponsorships revenue given his clean cut image compared to Mayweather’s run-ins with the laws. The Filipino southpaw reportedly makes around $5m from deals with Nike, Nestle and Footlocker while his American rival has no personal deals though companies including AT&T, Corona and Valvoline have all sponsored and run promotions around his fights in the past.

Despite the dearth of sponsorship income, Mayweather is the highest-earning athlete in the world with total earnings from his tussles in the ring topping $400m. He could bank more than $100m when he gets his share of the revenue streams from the fight, of which he commands a 60-40 split with Pacquiao.

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