A good example of fan connection and
brand transformation is Ultimate Fighting Championship,
also known as the UFC.
The UFC is a leading brand of mixed martial arts and is
rapidly building a large fan base in the US, and around the globe.
In fact, in the United States,
UFC matches have often outdrawn MLB and NBA games in the television ratings,
and they're selling out venues everywhere they travel.
One of the cornerstones of the UFC success
is the reality show pictured here titled The Ultimate Fighter,
broadcast on Spike TV,
niche cable television channel targeted to the 18 to 34 male demographic.
The Ultimate Fighter builds stars, storylines and drama,
around the quest of every men seeking a career in mixed martial arts.
After five seasons, the show has been critical in fueling interest
in the sport across all its platforms.
So why has the UFC become so successful?
Well for one, they've emphasized fan connection.
The UFC segmented the 18 to 34 year old male demographic,
which allowed them to establish a core audience that
is now being expanded to other demographics.
The UFC has also capitalized on a couple connection points.
There is a star connection through the personal storylines of the fighters,
and there is a vicarious experience connection
as the fighters participate in an often violent sport,
and are doing things that most people cannot do in their real life.
While the fan connection strategies of UFC are critical,
its success would not have occurred without a clear and identifiable brand.
The previous versions of UFC were too violent,
thus, limiting its marketing potential.
Following a series of rule changes,
the UFC ultimately transformed its type,
a critical foundation of branding, from gladiators to
artisans, to reflect the fighting skills and competitive spirit of mixed martial arts.