Why would someone know who Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao are, when they’re not particularly into boxing? It’s the job of event promoters the world over to make sure their showdown grabs headlines, news spots, and the general public’s attention.
But as social marketers all know, when someone reads the headlines and then takes the time to post their own views on Mayweather, Pacquiao, or their imminent fight it’s more than awareness. We call it engagement. It’s the next step in what we call the marketing funnel—where people start putting their money where their mouth is and picking sides.
Mayweather seems to know this too. As a fighter he’s famous for intimidating and wearing down his opponent in the ring by racking up points over a few rounds. As a marketer he’s using the press and social media to extend these intimidation tactics and have all of us help him with them by amplifying his message.
Even though it hasn’t happened yet, this fight has already been compared to the most famous in history, including Mohammed Ali vs. Joe Frazier. Mayweather threw in a superlative of his own when he told the Associated Press (AP), "[Ali] called himself The Greatest and I call myself TBE (The Best Ever). I'm pretty sure I'll get criticized for what I said, but I could care less. I could care less about the backlash."
Are Mayweather’s tactics convincing us that he really is the best? While Mayweather points to his record (47–0 with 26 knockouts) as proof that he is, Pacquiao’s record isn’t too shabby either (57–5–2 with 38 knockouts). For the unbiased observer, these numbers seem to leave the question open for debate. According to the same AP article, current heavyweight champion, Wladimir Klitschko, tried to clear things up for reporters in New York, "I think people call the king the king, not the king (who says) 'I'm the king.' So people make others somebody that he is or that he's not. So that's people's opinions.” Though we’re still trying to figure out exactly what Klitschko meant in his statement, we decided to follow his lead and take a look at what the people have to say.
Boxing and Buzz
As we examine trending themes associated with Mayweather, we see that his comments on Muhammad Ali are not the only reason audiences have been incited to engage his brand.
For instance, Suge Knight, makes an appearance in Mayweather’s word cloud. Just this past Thursday, the former rap mogul pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder for allegedly mowing over two men with his truck at a Compton restaurant earlier this year.
So what’s the connection? Knight’s bail is set at $10 million. He can’t afford to post it, but his good friend, Floyd Mayweather Jr. can. Knight’s attorney has said that if Mayweather wins the fight, he expects the pound-for-pound king of boxing to cover this expense.
It gets worse. Mayweather has been arrested or issued a citation for seven alleged assaults against five different women. Not surprisingly people are talking about this too.
What we don’t see in the word cloud are brand name sponsors. Their absence might be explained by the resistance that most (or all) businesses have to being associated to alleged assaults and alleged murderer.
So is Mayweather’s press working for him or not? The public seems to think it is. They are fascinated by his bravado and in the past two weeks have all but declared him the winner.
Whether his brand sentiment is positive or negative just doesn’t matter to his audience. He doesn’t shy away from controversy, and he’s got double the mentions to show for himself. Owning the conversation seems to be the same as winning the match.
Is Bad Press Good Press?
Despite controversies surrounding Mayweather, constant coverage on traditional and social media means relevant brands can’t afford not to engage.
In order to capitalize on organic engagement, brands must be careful about how they insert themselves into the conversation. Take AT&T, Corona, and Valvoline for example. They don’t sponsor Mayweather personally, but they have sponsored and marketed his fights, driving Pay-Per-View (PPV) buys higher. Mayweather co-promotes all of his fights and knows that driving purchase of PPV means money in his pocket. While the brands sponsoring the fight are seemingly not directly tied to Mayweather, they reap the benefits of Mayweather’s highly engaged audience.
Mayweather is using the power of his brand both to drive awareness and engagement as well as throw some punches, score some points, and squeeze his opponent into a corner weeks before the opening bell rings. Needless to say, Vegas can look forward to some more than a few revved-up gamblers.
We don’t know yet whether his intimidation tactics will work in the ring, but they’ve already served him well in growing his brand awareness and engagement as well capitalizing on them with fight sponsors. If we take a lesson from Mayweather’s domination on traditional and social media it’s, “Any press is good press when it’s consistent with your brand.” Controversial, but definitely something to consider as a tactic to grow a brand’s influence.
Yariv Rabinovitch is the content marketing manager at Meltwater.