How Far is Too Far? Bruce Lee, The UFC and Marketing Your BrandThe new UFC video game, EA Sports UFC, hits store shelves today and while it features a roster of current UFC superstars like Jon Jones and Ronda Rousey, the biggest (and most controversial) name putting on the digital gloves isn’t a current UFC competitor. In fact, he’s been dead for more than 40 years.
EA Sports UFC features the Octagon debut of martial arts superstar Bruce Lee, who passed away in 1973, twenty years before mixed martial arts took hold in the U.S. While Lee’s philosophy of martial arts is seen by some to be a precursor to MMA, his inclusion in the game brings up a big question both for UFC fans and for digital marketers – How far are you willing to stretch your brand?
98% of the time, the UFC’s brand is really tightly defined. Take two bad-asses, give them gloves and put them in silly shorts and let them punch each other in the face and jiu-jitsu each other in the knees. There are weight classes to make sure there aren’t any gross mismatches and when you get too old or too not-good-at-fighting, you retire to become a broadcaster or train the next generation of fighters.
Videogames are the exception. With no real-life restrictions, those old fighters can keep coming back to challenge the young pups and, in the case of Lee, dream match-ups that were never before possible can become a reality, if only a virtual one.
The shift out of the real-world and into the digital space opens up more options for UFC President Dana White and his teams.
As a marketer, traditional marketing doesn’t give you a whole lot of room to take chances with your messaging. Even if you’re doing a drastic re-brand, the time and money you’re going to spend working on that mean that you don’t just want your new look to be different—you want it to be different and better. The billboard, print ads and TV spots need to communicate your message effectively, quickly, and in a way that makes you money, quickly.
Digital marketing becomes your version of UFC’s video game. The old rules don’t apply, the weight classes fall away and the limits of what you “can” do start to look more and more like they’re suggestions more than anything else.
So, how far is too far?
The initial reaction to digital Bruce Lee bringing Jeet Kune Do to the UFC has been pretty divided. Some gamers and UFC fans are excited about the idea of putting one of the most popular martial artists of all time against present-day athletes. Others are convinced that Lee’s inclusion is, at worst, a cash grab that tarnishes his legacy. (At best, it might just approach Michael Jackson hologram levels of creepy.)
The folks at UFC hopefully had some version of those discussion before they announced Lee’s inclusion in the game, and those are the conversations your company needs to have as you consider taking some chances in the digital space. Which of your buyer personas will respond well to your new initiatives? Which do you risk offending?
Even if UFC’s decision to bring Lee into the video game turns out to be a total disaster, their core product will likely remain unaffected. (Bad-asses are still going to punch and jiu-jitsu each other on pay-per-view.) Brands like DiGiorno and Capri Sun have bet big on edgy directions for their online profiles. They’re building a following and publicity based on things like live-tweeting the telecast of The Sound of Music, which is not exactly on message with selling frozen pizzas or pouches of juice. If it had turned out that people weren’t amused (and were just confused) by these directions for the Twitter accounts, it would be incredibly easy to revert to tweeting about pepperoni.
As your company starts to think (and re-think) about the tone and content of your digital marketing, don’t be afraid to take some chances with tone. Much like bending the space-time continuum to allow Bruce Lee to fight BJ Penn, the Internet gives you the chances to take risks you couldn’t in other media and walk right up to the line of what’s “too far” for your current customers. If you don’t wind up finding new business out there or accidentally pushing things a little past your comfort level, it’s rather easy to walk things backward.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: How Far is Too Far? Bruce Lee, The UFC and Marketing Your Brand
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