Campaign: Cage fighters take to Manchester's streets

Cage fighting is an 'anything goes' showmanship combat sport held in a ring with caged sides, using a variety of martial arts and wrestling.

Campaign No Guts, No Glory
Client World Cage Fighting Championship
PR team Impact Media
Timescale February-March 2006
Budget £20,000

The first UK event was scheduled to be held in Manchester on 18 March, but the organisers knew that a lack of awareness of cage fighting meant ticket sales would be slow. Impact Media was parachuted in to help, just five weeks before the event.

To achieve a high number of ticket sales for the event, and raise public awareness of cage fighting.

Strategy and Plan
The PR team immediately realised that some journalists would criticise the tournament so decided to capitalise on this. For the tabloids, Impact Media wanted to spark controversy and play up the celebrity and glamour angles, while for the broadsheets it wanted to encourage informed debate.

It sent out a press release, headed ‘The original Olympic sport or human cockfighting?’, while various spokespeople, such as British female champion Rosi Sexton – a doctor in mathematics by day but female cage fighter by night – reinforced the campaign messages.

Impact Media set up an exclusive with The Guardian, giving its reporter an opportunity to meet fighters and watch them train and spar. Another angle was worked up for the regional papers, focusing on Manchester fighter Ozzy Haluk’s chances.

The team also wanted to create a pre-match buzz, so its regional promotional activity included a team of promotional girls, who delivered flyers to clubs, bars and pubs in the North-West.

The stunt aspect involved Manchester city centre, where fighters paraded through the streets, followed by an entourage of actors posing as protesters. This prompted some locals to join the ‘protest’. The police gave it an escort.

Measurement and Evaluation
Coverage – which Impact Media claims is worth more than £500,000 – appeared in newspapers such as The Independent, The Guardian, The Sun, Daily Mail and The Sunday Times. Broadcast coverage included spots on Granada Reports, BBC Radio Manchester, Key 103 and Galaxy 102.

The March fight was a sell-out, attracting more than 7,000 people. Glamour was added by Manchester United players Rio Ferdinand, Wes Brown and John O’Shea, who were at the Manchester Evening News Arena.

More cage fighting competitions are to be held in Liverpool.

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