Media Fight Night is back this week – and it’s packing an even bigger punch on Twitch

Media Fight Night (MFN) 2021, the annual charity boxing event that brings ad land together to battle it out and raise money for charity, will be packing an even bigger punch this year with the event being exclusively livestreamed to the masses via Twitch on November 4 from 8.30pm GMT.

1,200 attendees are expected to attend the event, which is on course to break through the £1m donation barrier being raised since its inception in 2015 – and this year all donations will be made to mental health charity In Your Corner. The fight will be commentated by MFN Sports Commentator Joe Byrnes, with Twitch streamers Tommy from Two Angry Gamers and Claire from WeeClaireHere extending the exposure and audience of the event beyond those in the room.

“Twitch brings a massive audience extension to MFN,” says Fran Cowan, director of advertiser marketing at Twitch. “At any event like this there is a limit on who can physically be in the room. The livestream on Twitch completely removes the physical barrier to participation and means that those who can’t attend but would like to show their support can watch the action as it happens, donate to the charity and chat to our commentators live.”

Taking to the ring for MFN 2021 are: Grant Impey, global head of commercial, MediaCom; Charlotte Ford, brand partnerships manager – travel and lifestyle, Disney; Mark Hudson, head of early talent, News UK; Alex Jones, head of sales, Mail Metro Media; Sarah Jolicoeur, personal assistant, Manning Gottlieb OMD; Hannah Cunningham, account manager, Mindshare; Mark Taylor, senior account manager – publishers, Quantcast; Mark Evans, senior director, buyer development, Index Exchange; Toby Lyons, head of client strategy, Fifty; Terry Heath, head of response, News UK; Jon Masterson, trading director, GroupM; and Rob Doel, managing partner, Wavemaker UK.

The Drum caught up ringside with John Maloney, global chief investment officer, m/SIX and founder of MFN to learn more about how it all started and what we can expect from this year’s punch-up.

Let’s go right back to the beginning. When and why did you set up Media Fight Night – what’s the purpose behind it?

I was originally approached by Professor Mark McGurk, co-founder of the Head & Neck Cancer Foundation (HNCF) in 2014. He is an oral and maxillofacial head and neck cancer surgeon and consultant, he’s also one of the most inspiring individuals I’ve ever met. He made me aware of an innovative procedure, Sentinel Node Biopsy (SNB), that would save 70% of patients who were diagnosed with early-stage head and neck cancer from having a major life changing and disfiguring surgery. At the time, SNB, wasn’t available in the UK and it would take £500k to introduce it at a UK level – it felt like a tangible objective and a fundraising number that was achievable – Media Fight Night was born.

You’ve got some great boxers lined up to take part this year from a real interesting mix of organizations – are there any bouts you’re especially looking forward to?

I’m genuinely looking forward to all the matches and it would be extremely difficult for me to single one of them out. Each participant has been on their own journey, whether it’s Will Ramage, 50 years of age and hadn’t been in a gym for over 20 years prior to the Media Fight Night training camp, or Mark Hudson, who has lost over three stone in three months and changed his lifestyle forever. The girls are always great to watch as every year they are by far the most technical and in my opinion are the best matches to watch.

Have you ever taken to the ring yourself – and did you win?

I participated in the first two events in 2015 and 2016. I won both matches, but for anyone that was there or saw the second one, it was a very close decision and could have gone either way.

Why is it so important to you to bring the industry together like this?

Our industry is capable of incredible things and when we put our energy into something, can bring about positive and meaningful change. I think Media Fight Night is a great embodiment of this. 1,200 of the media industry’s most senior people coming together on a single night and harnessing all the good things it is capable of. The event wouldn’t be possible without the participants, but equally, the £1m we are about to raise wouldn’t have been remotely achievable without all the sponsors and media partners that have donated so generously over the years – all the Media Fight Night team and the charities we support are eternally grateful for this.

Tell us about the charity you’ll be raising funds for [mental health charity In Your Corner] - why this charity? How much are you hoping to raise and how will the donations be used?

This year Media Fight Night is on course to break through £1m being raised since its inception in 2015. We will be raising money for a charity that is close to our hearts, In Your Corner – which is a charity run by qualified boxing and healthcare professionals who engage with individuals and focus on improving and managing participants mental health symptoms using a fully integrated approach which tackles personal and social issues.

In the South East and Kent, 14.8% of people aged 16-74 are suffering from some sort of mental health disorder and there’s an increasing awareness of the growing number of children and young people that identify with mental health and emotional problems in school. 55% of schools in the areas ‘frequently’ or ‘very frequently’ were presented with issues relating to children’s mental health.

The In Your Corner team have an ambition of taking their program into more hospitals and schools and ultimately to create a community hub where people can come and train, feel safe and get the support they need. Media Fight Night is committed to facilitating and supporting this ambition. Our boxers want to help, but they need you to support them. Every single penny raised makes a huge difference so please support our joint efforts.

Last year the event took place virtually only due to Covid-19 restrictions, so what can we expect from this year’s event now that it’s back in person?

The opportunity for friends, colleagues, and clients to see each other in a social setting for the first time in nearly two years. The chance to celebrate and applaud a group of industry professionals who have trained intensely for nearly six months and raised over £100k in the process. An incredible atmosphere that boxing experts who have attended would compare to live events in Las Vegas and the O2 Arena.

The event has been sold out now for several months – so how can any readers of The Drum get involved if they aren’t already attending in person?

For those that can’t attend in person but are interested in watching and showing their support, they can stream the event live via Twitch and donate via our group JustGiving fundraising page.

Tune in exclusively on Twitch to watch all of the action in real-time from this year’s Media Fight Night live on November 4, 2021 at 8.30pm GMT.