UFC at USD: Lorenzo Fertitta visits San Diego Business Students
February 18, 2011 § 1 Comment
USD business students recently had a unique opportunity to hear Lorenzo Fertitta speak on campus about his life, his company, and finding success in the business world. Addressing a packed house in the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice (including a spillover crowd of at least 200 listening in an adjacent room by simulcast), Fertitta described the meteoric rise over the past ten years of the once-ailing Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Fertitta recalled his days at the University of San Diego as an undergraduate business student with fondness. Focusing on finance and marketing, he was able to earn a BBA degree from USD and continue his education at NYU’s Stern School of Business in their MBA program.
Now listed as one of the Forbes 400 Richest Americans (#385 for 2010), Fertitta talked about how the UFC worked to create a brand that would really resonate with fans by taking a completely different approach than the sport of boxing. In what sounded like a perfect case study for Blue Ocean Strategy, he compared and contrasted the UFC to the outdated and stagnant boxing industry.
“The boxing industry didn’t have a viable business model,” said Fertitta. “There was no brand in professional boxing, and the promoters were fragmented and often times corrupt.” Fertitta saw this broken business model up close during his stint with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and recognized it as an opportunity to turn the struggling UFC brand into a worldwide industry.
The UFC proudly occupies the number one spot in the 18-34 male demographic in several areas, including print magazine sales and TV ratings. Their events have consistently outpeformed Monday Night Football in the coveted 18-34 category, resulting in some key partnerships with huge advertising brands eager to reach that same audience.
Embracing all forms of media, including social platforms, has been an integral part of the company’s success. Rather than squash usage of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, the UFC holds annual seminars to train fighters on how to leverage new media to build their own personal brand. As a result, the UFC has built a huge following online that continutes to grow daily. Fertitta and his business partner and long-time friend, Dana White, both have an impressive presence on the social web. White has over 1.3 Million followers on Twitter, while an average video clip on the UFC YouTube channel gets more than 380,000 views.
UFC now has its sights set on overseas expansion, which should be an easier step for them than other American sports that have attempted to go global in years past. “Overseas, there’s no extensive explanation needed, like in American football,” Fertitta quipped. “It’s easy – put two guys in the octagon and let them go!” Hand-to-hand combat likely spans cultural boundaries better than punts, passes, kicks, and clipping penalties.
Fertitta and company next head to Sydney, Australia for UFC 127 on February 26. After Fertitta’s visit to his alma mater, you can bet there will be some new fans from San Diego watching. Are you a UFC fan?