In this month’s Being Remarkable, Connecting Plots’ Group Managing Director, Tom Phillips takes a look at the famous 2017 ‘Money Fight’ between Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor and pulls out a few marketing lessons that we could learn from one of the most publicised and profitable boxing matches of the 21st century.

I’m no boxing expert by any means, but I do love a good publicity stunt! I’ve been seeing Conor McGregor’s name pop up a lot after his most recent “leg-breaking” fight and it got me reminiscing about the infamous Mayweather vs. McGregor match.

To refresh your memory, the two professional fighters clashed in an unconventional boxing match on 26 August 2017 which saw the world of boxing and MMA coming together in a marketing match made in heaven.

So what are some of the lessons about remarkable marketing that we can learn from this event? I’ve broken out seven that really stood out to me…

1. Novelty Earns Interest

Consumers jump at content that breaks the norm and stands out as unique or different. This unorthodox match-up between the world’s greatest boxer and the world’s greatest MMA fighter was a huge draw in and a great way to grow an audience and capture different markets. The two worlds of boxing and MMA had never been merged in this way before which meant the fight appealed to two incredibly passionate groups of fans, as well as a whole new group of people who were drawn in by the pure novelty of this out-of-the-box event.

2. Be Single-Minded With Your Messaging

As the KISS principle says – keep it simple, stupid. In marketing that means knowing your key message and ensuring it’s reiterated at every point you can. In the lead up to the Mayweather vs Macgregor fight, every weigh-in, every interview, every piece of content or even every run-in on the street made sure to mention one very important thing: the date of the fight. Miss it… miss out!

3. Understand What Your Audience Wants

The pair’s feud dated back to 2015, when McGregor was asked whether he would fight Mayweather during an interview with Conan O’Brien. Soon enough, both sides started making smart comments in interviews and calling each other out on social media. Their fans became invested quickly and spent the next two years asking for a fight. But while audiences did, of course, want a great match between two talented fighters, what everyone really wanted was the entertainment and scandal that came with these two specific personalities and their ongoing feud. And lucky for them, that’s exactly what they got.

4. Don’t Be Afraid To Be Controversial

This leads perfectly to our next point – never be afraid to be a little bit controversial. Our Creative Director, CJ has written a whole article about Contentiousness, but in the case of Mayweather and McGregor, the main reason people became so invested in the fight was because of the war of words between the two of them, with neither fighter being afraid to be contentious or polarising. Not only does a narrative like this drive interest, but it offers a great talking point and publicity opportunities that increases awareness and audience participation.

5. Know Your Brand Identity

Both fighters have a very clear identity. McGregor is “Notorious” and outspoken while Mayweather is all about “Money” and his brands. McGregor was seen as the antagonist from the start, while Mayweather was pinned as the hero. However, they both seemed happy to play to their personalities and strengths and never wavered from that throughout everything.

6. Have Clear Objectives

There is no denying the fact that Mayweather and McGregor got a big payday, but that’s not all they earned. From a boost in McGregor’s profile to more publicity for Mayweather’s The Money Team brand, there were advantages for both competitors. Mayweather even chose to come out of retirement to take part, despite the risk to his 49-0 winning streak, a clear sign there were many factors at play. Someone had to lose but both teams were very clear on what they wanted to achieve that the benefits clearly outweighed the risks.

7. Make Your Marketing Authentic & Integrated

From the promotional interviews to the weigh-ins to the personal arguments and online rants, the campaign spanned PR, numerous media channels and both McGregor & Mayweather’s own personal social media channels. It was a cohesive marketing campaign that ran for months leading up to the fight, but was all the more special because it felt truly authentic.