Bellator goes viral to give itself a fighting chance in the MMA arena

Bellator Fighting Championships entered the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) arena with its first season in April 2009.

Client: Bellator Fighting Championships (Chicago)
PR agency: Alpaytac (Chicago)
Campaign: Launch of Season One
Duration: March-June 2009
Budget: $100,000

Bellator Fighting Championships entered the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) arena with its first season in April 2009. Competing against the well-known MMA promotion Ultimate Fighting Championship and airing only on ESPN Deportes, the new company hoped to build awareness of Bellator in the Hispanic and general markets, and secure an English-language distribution deal to air its fights.

Working with AOR Alpaytac, the company focused on mainstream editorial coverage and introduced viral components.

"Editorial comment was im-portant, seminal, to our quick growth," says Bjorn Rebney, chairman and CEO of Bellator. "We wanted to take the information about who we are and what made us different, and get it out there from a broad-stroke, general-market perspective."

Bellator and Alpaytac pitched outlets including USA Today and Sports Illustrated with the personal stories of the fighters. MMA-focused online outlets, like and MMA Weekly, were also targeted.

"Bellator's competitors weren't that active in social media, and there we found opportunity," says Alpaytac CEO and president Huma Gruaz. The campaign was on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Bellator's site also hosted Wednesday Warriors, where fights were streamed for free and in English.

YouTube videos from Bellator were viewed 1 million-plus times and the Bellator Underground Newsletter reached 5,400 subscribers. In addition, seasons two and three of Bellator will air on Fox Sports Net, NBC, and Telemundo starting this April. Future
Bellator will continue working with Alpaytac, says Rebney, and future PR plans include keeping up with the stories of the fighters and "continuing to set the bar relative to viral marketing with YouTube and the like."

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