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How Boxing Made Me Believe In Branding


I wouldn’t particularly call myself a sports fan in the slightest. Jaded by the onslaught of footie back-and-forth and child-like banter, sports to me much resembled organised crime.

Organised in the sense that teams didn’t represent pride, honour or even geography anymore. The best players just belonged to the richest teams, where contenders were traded more frequently than Pokemon cards. This to me didn’t seem fair nor did it excite me.

From rugby to F1, it just seemed like a big game of Monopoly where the richest had a far greater advantage, giving me the lesser of two evils to root for (like Coke vs. Pepsi). Not to mention, me still not fully understanding things like the offside rule, I also found spectator sports criminally boring to say the least.

I was cynical, I was snide and I was bitter.

Then one day while browsing through my Facebook timeline, I stumbled across one of those ‘ad of the week’ videos that people commonly share.

With millions of views and my friends ‘LOL-ing’ left and right, I felt like I was being left out of something significant – as if standing on the outside of an inside-joke everybody was part of.

I had to find out more.

Thankfully this wasn’t too hard. With a little elbow grease and 21st century magic called ‘Youtube Related Links’, I was on it! Down the right-hand side I find a video in full caps called, “MAYWEATHER/PACQUIAO: AT LAST [Full Episode]” by HBOBoxing.

“HBO like the creators of The Wire, True Detective and Game of Thrones, HBO?” I thought to myself. “And they made a reality TV show about a fight? This I have to see!”

About 10 minutes into the episode I knew I was hooked. It was more than just a boxing match that I was watching unfold. It was a story about two boxers who were destined to fight one another on the 2nd of May. It was the fight of the century. It was good vs. evil. It was David and Goliath. It was a story about rags to riches, with drama, suspense, politics and a butt load of action.

It was a damn good story, and one I could really get behind.

Totally engrossed by these two characters who existed on complete separate ends of the spectrum, I found myself spending all my free time watching ‘Greatest Hits’ and ‘Best Knock Out’ videos, looking up sport commentaries and even checking the odds of the night in question.

Is this what it felt like to be a sports fan? How do you people get anything done? If this was what sports had become, sign me up because I was 100% addicted.

Taking a step back and seeing what I’ve become, I realised it wasn’t the brutal and barbaric sport of boxing that sold me, but the branding of the fight – that one monumental night that would change everything forever. It wasn’t the sport that I fell in love with, but the story.

And isn’t that what branding is all about?

This match had all the flawless branding elements that took the world by storm and even converted a non-believer like me. Elements such as:

1)    Highlighting the fight in avenues which extended that of the boxing realm. From funny Youtube videos to inspirational sponsored training ads, their communication was brilliant, covering all grounds by adapting to its different audience members. With a large swooping spread, they reached every nook and cranny, which in turn exposed themselves brilliantly to the masses.

2)    They created a compelling story that positioned itself as more than just a fight. It was history in the making, which you just had to be part of.

3)    They made social media their second arena. Leveraging on the fact that people love a good online argument, they created an on-going conversation with #MayweatherPacquiao, #MayPac and the likes, forcing us to pick a side and continue the dialog.

Reflecting on my transformation in the past week, the branding that went behind this match was nothing short of perfect. From the level of marketing to its overall strategy, this was a brilliant story that caught the attention of the whole world.

However, the story isn’t over. As every good story deserves a happy ending, be sure to tune in on the 2nd of May to witness the epic conclusion to the journey of these two champions as Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao finally square off.

Anything could happen.

Does your brand have the makings of a knock-out?

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