The Canadian network, which launched in 2005 and features programs on combat sports such as boxing, wrestling and mixed martial arts, is rolling out a multimedia campaign this week to promote its new brand.
“We’ve got a brash new attitude and we want people to watch us,” said Fight Network general manager Anthony Cicione. “The channel isn’t just two guys fighting; there’s lifestyle programming, there’s news programming, and there’s fight programming.”
Along with the new programming is a new logo, graphics and identity. These elements are tied into a campaign by Toronto ad agency Brandworks, the channel’s creative agency of record. The campaign will also showcase the channel’s subtle name change (“the” has been dropped from the name). “It’s Fight Network, like Fight Club,” says Michael Clancy, principal at Brandworks. The channel will more commonly be referred to as FN.
Other elements of the integrated campaign include brand activation and experiential marketing by Brand Momentum. Its teams are rolling through Toronto this month in a Fight Network-branded vehicle and playing out grassroots initiatives, including interactive fighting experiences and stunts in the streets. The street teams are also giving out branded collateral and talking up Fight Network’s content. The Siren Group Inc. is handling public relations for the campaign.
“We went with the integrated approach because it’s a reflection of the network itself,” said Cicione. “We wanted the network to be an integrated station as well.”
The rebrand and relaunch comes just ahead of the first UFC event in Toronto, April 30. “It’s a perfect way to connect with the [men 18 to 34] market Fight Network needs to be watching their shows and who the advertising world needs to know about in terms of buying time on Fight Network,” said Clancy.
In the past, the network “was languishing with roughly just under a million subscribers,” he said. While they were a solid audience of hardcore fight fans, Clancy said there was a bigger opportunity to have a greater audience of men 18 to 34.
How would he describe that audience? “They’re not watching TV. They’re online, their whole world is based on their electronics, they’re going to the clubs and they’re crazy about UFC.” That’s why Brandworks decided to give the imagery and concept of the campaign “a club kind of feel,” said Clancy. “We wanted to lift it up out of the hokey, corny wrestling in school gyms with guys in ill-fitting bathing suits. We’re trying to make it cool and slick.”
Fight Network is also hoping to create impact when it hosts a launch event on April 27 in Toronto for senior leaders from ad agencies. The invitation-only fete will include media buyers, planners and sponsors as well as celebrity fighters and host from Fight Network.
Those in attendance may spot Leonard Asper, Fight Network chief executive officer. As Cicione said, when Asper came onboard in December, the new investment capital he brought was reinvested into the brand, marketing and programming. While the channel faced funding issues previously, it’s making a comeback with the capital and Asper’s energy, said Cicione. “We’ve always wanted to go this way, we just never had the resources. Now with Leonard here, we do.”