Marketing $en$e 101

By Prof. Clifford Benton, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: June 6, 2010

QUEENS, N.Y. (BASN) — “You got a Puerto Rican and a Jew fighting. It might not work in Texas, but it works in New York City.”

No offense to the Lone Star State and my “adopted son” Kellen Allen and family, but this is what Carl Moretti, Vice President of Top Rank, told me straight with no chaser — and without a hint of any ethnic bias.

He went on to explain that it just made good business sense. Think Super Bowl coming to the New York metro area; weather wise, it could be a disaster, but CA$H RULE$ EVERYTHING… (no need to finish—you know the line).

So big-time boxing comes back to the Bronx. Bob Arum and Top Rank staged a wonderful event. Everything about it was top shelf. Even the ring card girls were “classy not assy”, but the marketing is where Top Rank fell short.

Arum said at the post-fight press conference that they set up for a max of 27,000. The fight drew 20, 272. Consider the following: (1) the fight was shown on HBO; and (2) the weatherpersons promised rain — again (why do people get mad at meteorologists? Last time I checked, they didn’t have God tattooed on their foreheads.)

Arum and others felt the fight being accessible on television affected ticket sales. They’re right and they’re wrong. They also believed the threat of rain hurt the walk-up ticket sales. Once again, they’re right. And they’re wrong.

It was the marketing more than the “relatively free” tv or rain.

If I’m Top Rank, I bring in people who know how to mobilize the thriving Puerto Rican community. I bring in guys like Jay Reelz and JD of the “Final Word” on Blog Talk Radio and get them to assist with the marketing.

They’re both knowledgeable and well respected. I use street teams to get the word out. I get Cotto to walk down 149th and Third Ave., have a motorcade up the Grand Concourse, shake hands and kiss babies on 125th on the East Side, and jog up Fordham Road.

I have posters saying, “Puerto Rico in the house,” (what do you think street teams are for?). I set up a ticket outlet as Hostos Community College. I get students from Bronx Community College to sell tickets door-to-door for a commission.

I get local reggaeton artists to do a song called “Yankeeton.”

I get the super group, Chutzpah, Rabbi Joe Black, and the legendary Beastie Boys to do a pre-fight concert. I give comp tickets to some Jewish movers and shakers.

(In the African-American community, people of influence are called shot callers and in other communities they’re referred to as “movers and shakers.” Interesting.)

Marketing involves creating advantage from disadvantage. I would have “challenged” the Puerto Rican community to come out. I would have referenced the Jamaican community in New York.

You think if Mr. Bolt had a race in Yankee Stadium that my beloved “Yardees” wouldn’t pack the joint? Top Rank needed to sound the alarm. This match had the advantage of date and place.

We’re talking about the day before the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City. You think rain or the threat of rain is going to stop the Boricua? It could be a “too-soon monsoon” and the place would be sold out.

And then, let’s look at the place. Location. Location. Location. This fight was held in the BX, and of all places, the new Yankee Stadium — home of the defending champions.

I give Yankee season ticket holders 10% off the ticket price.

I get the Bronx Borough President, Ruben Diaz Jr., who’s an avid sports fan and hip-hop lover, to flex his political and activist muscles.

I give HBO subscribers 10% off the ticket price. “If You Subscribe, Go See It Live.” (So what if you have less people watching it on HBO — they’re going to tivo it anyway or watch the replay.)

I secure the blessing of Mayor Bloomberg by giving 10% off the ticketed price to New York City employees. You talk about cultivating good will and then some?

“At Top Rank, we understand the difficult economic times facing New York City employees, and we want to give something back.” And, you get a bigger discount, (let’s say 15%) if you buy in blocks of twenty. Top Rank isn’t going to lose any money because they can just push the price point up.

I create a section at the stadium called “Eastern Parkway” to honor the Orthodox Jewish community — and set aside 5,000 seats. And I serve Kosher delights.

I get 50,000 — easy. I Market (with) $en$e.

BASN Nation. Get back to me. Here’s my question to you: How Would You Have Marketed the Cotto-Foreman fight?

Readers Note: At BASN Sports Business, we want the BASN Nation to be writers, not just readers, in other words, a “dollar” (figuratively speaking) for your thoughts. E-mail your P.E.A.R.L.S. (Perspective, Expertise, Advice, Reasons, Learnings & Solutions) to cbenton@blackathlete.com. I want to incorporate your feedback in subsequent articles.