Top Rank Promotions is arguably the biggest promotional outfit in boxing. It’s run by 77 year old Harvard law graduate Bob Arum, who has promoted some of the most legendary fighters to ever grace a ring. His portfolio spans almost fifty years and includes Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Marvin Hagler, George Foreman, Roberto Duran, Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.
Arum, although a bit of a cantankerous old sod; once describing a rival combat sport as ‘homosexual rolling around on the floor’, is also in my opinion a marketing genius. He was the first promoter to recognise the value of screening fights on ‘closed-circuit television’; where fans who couldn’t get tickets to see a fight live could watch the action on a big screen close by and feel more atmosphere than they would just sat at home. During the eighties he also pioneered and developed the pay-per-view model of selling fights, brokering deals with television networks such as HBO, Showtime and ESPN to name but a few.
Proving their status as a progressive company Top Rank were the first promotional organisation to recognise and harness the power of social media.They’ve established themselves on a number of social networks including Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.
In the build up to the Manny Pacquiao vs. Miguel Cotto fight in November 2o09, Top Rank implemented a social media campaign to both promote the fight and increase the company’s online presence. For every 50th Twitter follower Top Rank picked a random follower to win an autographed photo of the two fighters as well as a chance to go on and win the ‘top prize’: an autographed glove, tickets to the fight and the opportunity to meet both boxers.
In order to select the final winner, Top Rank named each follower on separate golf balls with the winner being the successfully putted ball; the whole process was filmed and posted on Youtube. During the fight, Top Rank encouraged their Twitter following to use #firepower; the title of the event, so that tweeters could engage with both live spectators and other viewers as the fight progressed.
As a boxing fan I find it refreshing to see a promotional enterprise devise and implement a creative campaign across a range of digital mediums as opposed to just being ‘on’ them. Top Rank raised their Twitter following into the five thousands and the fight had 1.25 million pay-per-view buys; becoming the ninth best selling fight in the history of the sport. The Social Media campaign didn’t do this any harm right?