TVKO is putting an unprecedented amount of marketing and
sponsorship support behind its Sept. 13 Oscar De La Hoya-Felix Trinidad welterweight
championship pay-per-view event.
The company has pulled in at least seven major national
sponsors -- a number of which are first-time boxing participants -- as part of a massive
marketing campaign for the unification bout, said network executives.
First-time boxing sponsor Excite.com has signed on to
develop the fight's official Web site.
It will include exclusive diaries from both fighters, chats with the fight's promoters and
an opportunity to win a trip to De La Hoya's next fight, said TVKO general manager Dan
The site will also feature an online auction, giving users
a chance to bid on signed, autographed gloves from the fighters. Excite.com will also host
a live Webcast of the pre- and post-fight press conferences, as well as the weigh-in.
Also new to boxing promotions is McDonald's. The fast-food
chain will run a spot featuring both fighters quitting their training regimens for a Big
Mac sandwich. While the company has a policy against officially sponsoring boxing events,
"they realized the significance of the event," York said.
Sports nutrition supplement maker Met-Rx is also throwing
its promotional hat into boxing for the first time, with a full-page print ad featuring De
La Hoya in ESPN Magazine prior to the fight, York said. It will also run radio spots on
such nationally syndicated shows as The Howard Stern Show and The Jim Rome Show,
as well as on WFAN-AM, the New York sports-talk station.
Western Union will sponsor the fight clock, while computer
component maker GoldenRAM will sponsor the official rules of the fight, York said.
Puma will tag its national TV spot schedule with fight
promos. The spots will rotate heavily particularly on the Fox Sports Net regional sports
services as well as FX, York said.
Anheuser-Busch Inc.'s Budweiser will offer fight spots
within its National Football League, college football and broadcast TV schedules, York
said. Also, the company will distribute more than 200,000 fight posters to several of its
While De La Hoya's fights have often appealed to mostly
Hispanic audiences, TVKO executives believe that the breadth of sponsors shows that the
fighter has major crossover appeal and mainstream potential.
"This takes Oscar to a whole new level and shows that
Oscar reaches well beyond the loyal boxing fans," said TVKO senior vice president
On the local level, TVKO executives said companies have
been very supportive in developing promotions for the fight. In West and Southwest,
several companies are anteing up significant dollars on local media and promotions, said
TVKO western region director Tony Walker. Houston-based Casa Olé restaurant, for example,
is offering a free meal, valued at $8.50, for subscribers that order the fight. A Dallas
Pizza Hut is offering a free medium-size pizza to fight buyers, he added.
TVKO has also received unprecedented interest in the fight
from companies in the Southeast and Ohio Valley area that ordinarily do not support
Hispanic-oriented fights. "It really shows that this fight has transcended the
sport," TVKO Southeast region general manager Ken Schick said.
Cable networks supporting the bout include
Hispanic-oriented Gems, which has sent more than 500,000 De La Hoya-Trinidad mail pieces
to non-cabled Hispanic homes in five major markets. The mail pieces offer a free De La
Hoya-Trinidad poster to new subscribers, York said.
TVKO sister service Home Box Office will feature a
half-hour De La Hoya-Trinidad countdown show prior to a Sept. 11 HBO World Championship
Boxing card. TVKO will offer a second half-hour preview show which operators can run on
barker channels. A third, syndicated 30-minute show will run in several top markets, York
TVKO will also offer a two-day barker channel show, which
will run on at least 20 million addressable-cable systems and direct-broadcast-satellite
services, York said.
ESPN will telecast SportsCenter shows from Las Vegas
the week of the fight, while ESPN2's Sept. 17 fight card will originate from Las Vegas and
will feature a preview of the fight.
In terms of radio promotions, Westwood One will contribute
more than $1 million in value toward the event. The company will run spots in its live
college football telecasts, as well as two-minute fight features during halftime of
Westwood One games on Sept. 4, Sept. 11 and Sept. 18, York said.
On the operator side, AT&T Broadband & Cable
Services will distribute 2.5 million fight promotional inserts in Sunday newspapers in the
Midwest and West, York said.
TVKO has steadily built De La Hoya into one of the biggest
PPV draws today. But network executives believe that the PPV performance of De La
Hoya-Trinidad fight could rival some of the biggest heavyweight fights of all time.
"What we have is the biggest non-heavyweight fight.
It's expected to break all records in terms of [non-heavyweight] buys and gross revenue
and will rank with the greatest of all time," Taffet said.