Group 7 – Summary of ONE Championship Final Report

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Company Overview

ONE Championship was launched in 2011 and has developed a great deal since. Carrying the mission of hosting the most exciting mixed martial arts competitions across Asia and starring the best athletes in Asia, ONE Championship is currently Asia’s largest sports media property. With a global broadcast to over 1 billion homes in 75 countries, it is widely recognised as the biggest MMA promoter in Asia with over 90% of the market share. As ONE Championship CEO Victor Cui puts across, his goal is to “bring MMA to every household, every single Asian, every single sport fan, every single fan in Asia”. ONE Championship currently has over 250 fighters under its banner and partnered with big corporate sponsors including G-shock, Haier, Cannon, and Under Armour. Its revenue stems primarily from ticket sales for live fights, pay-per-view, licensing, television contracts, and adverts.

Analysis of Social Media Performance

ONE Championship has been active on various social media platforms, with Facebook being the dominant platform (2.4 million likes and 951 shares per post on average). Its key strengths are its presence on major social media platforms, effective content marketing, community engagement on social media platforms, and building of local heroes through social media. However, ONE Championship 2 key weaknesses are the lack of sustainable online community for engagement and failure to address inherent brutality of MMA. This is primarily due to the nature of a sports business being susceptible to seasonal effects and MMA being a combat sport.

Research Question & Objectives

While there is no doubt that ONE Championship will continue to maintain its stronghold as the leading MMA promotion in Asia, there are still areas where ONE Championship can improve upon through the use of social media. Our research question will focus on how can ONE Championship improve its brand image and perception, and increase sustainable engagement through the use of social media?

Objective 1: Improve ONE Championship’s Brand Image & Perception

Objective 2: Increase Sustainable Engagement with Consumers & Build a Stronger Brand Community

Target Audience

The psychographics of our target audience are people who are interested in sports or personal well-being. These people involvement in sports are motivated by pleasure, physical and mental well-being, and aesthetic and moral representations. ONE Championship has done well in providing the identity and aesthetic value to address the consumers’ needs but lack in providing moral and sociability values.

Proposed Strategies

Message Strategy

ONE Championship’s message strategy has been for consumers to perceive ONE Championship as “one of the greatest platforms to unleash human potential” (Lee, 2016). Although the message is associated with the aesthetics motives and values for sport consumption, it does not address the image issues of MMA well and has an aggressive flavour with the phrase “unleash human potential”. Therefore, our proposed message strategy aims to emphasise that MMA is neither a “human cockfighting” nor a brutal sport. MMA is a sport that entails mental strength, discipline, confidence, self-improvement, strong work ethics, and a warrior spirit.

Strategy #1: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Approach

Based on our analysis of ONE Championship, we recommend that ONE Championship participate in CSR activities to improve its brand image and perception of MMA sport. CSR is the corporate obligation to conduct its business in a way that protect and improve both the welfare of the society and the interest of the organisation. Klara (n.d) avers that CSR is part of the strategic planning for organisations that want to improve their reputation and remain competitive (Asemah et al., 2013). Recent research has also found that CSR leads to greater corporate financial performance by improving customers’ goodwill, boosting sales revenue, and reducing business risk (Nurn and Tang, 2010).

  • MMA as an Extra-Curriculum Activity in Schools

ONE Championship can partake in CSR by partnering with government schools across Asia countries to set-up and sponsor non-competitive MMA as an Extra Curriculum Activity (ECA) for high school and college students who are interested in sports. It is important to educate parents that the focus of such an ECA is not to teach teenagers how to fight, but as a form of self-defence and a healthy sport activity. The trainings should revolve around the same core message of MMA as a sport with values of mental strength, discipline, confidence, self-improvement, strong work ethics, and a warrior spirit. However, it is not efficient for a business to conduct CSR if no one knows about its CSR efforts. Therefore, ONE Championship should publicize its CSR efforts on all of its existing social media platforms for simultaneous media consumption even though Facebook clearly leads the other platforms in terms of both followers (2.4 million) and shareability (951 on average per post). ONE Championship should then organise for its local heroes to participate as “star-appearance” coaches to emphasize to students on the moral values of training MMA instead of the fancy techniques involved. Both fighters and trainees are encouraged to share the ECA training on social media, accompanied with the hashtag #ONEFCApprentice to generate more interest and awareness of its CSR efforts.

  • ONEFC Cares Programme

In addition to the CSR approach strategy, we recommend a new initiative named ONEFCCares that utilise brand ambassadors in the direction that is aligned with ONE Championship’s message strategy. Under ONEFCCares, ONE Championship will handpick suitable fighters to become ambassadors for Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) such as anti-violence or anti-drug organisations. ONE Championship can also periodically arrange for their fighters to participate in community services. For a start, we have identified three areas for the programme.

  1. Mentoring troubled teens in homes or orphanage
  2. Organise special Olympics event for special needs children
  3. Entertaining residents at nursing homes

Similarly, ONEFCCares activities should be posted across all of ONE Championship’s social media platforms. The fighters who have participated in the programme need to share their experience through their social media accounts and hashtag #ONEFCCares to generate more awareness. This initiative will be able to create positive public relations and improve the perception on ONE Championship by the public. The results of such efforts are evident in the case study of National Basketball Association (NBA).

Strategy #2: Utilising Influencers

ONE Championship should invite famous Instagrammers that are well known for being involved in sports or workouts to achieve a healthy living, and have them to share their experience with ONE Championship through social media. An example of a suitable candidate could be Kayla Itsines who has 5.1 million followers that will allow ONE Championship to leverage on her huge follower base. ONE Championship could also feature other well-known top Asian sports celebrities’ interest in MMA sport. ONE Championship needs to invite celebrities such as Taiwanese basketball player Jeremy Lin, South Korean golfer Inbee Park, or even Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, offering them front row VIP seats in fight events and have them post their attendance on their social media accounts, tagging #ONEFCMMA (official hashtag). This would in turn generate interest and create a better brand image for ONE Championship, as consumers would view MMA as an elite sport that even top sportsmen from other fields are fans of.

Strategy #3: Using Mobile Application to Create Online Brand Community

Although Facebook and Twitter act as a type of discussion forum, they are not considered interchangeable with more traditional forums. Some of the disadvantages of holding discussions on Facebook include content “disappearing” after user scrolls past it or when new posts are uploaded, and limited control over functionality. While there is already presence of MMA forums online, discussions related to ONE Championship are often subsets of those related to UFC and it is challenging to navigate through the overwhelming interfaces.

Besides, there is also no dedicated ONE Championship mobile application that caters to fans who prefers to access information online. According to Bonnington (2015), a smartphone could be our only computer in less than 2 years at the rate of mobile technology development. A recent Pew Research Centre report (2015) also states that 92% of teens report going online daily, and 24% say they go online almost constantly, with much of this frenzy facilitated by mobile technology. All these data clearly suggest that it is timely for ONE Championship to jump on the bandwagon to keep up with its competitors.

With these observations in mind, ONE Championship should invest and create a dedicated mobile App. The concept of this mobile App is a one-stop shop that provides users with majority of the functions currently available online with a focus on simplicity, usability, and shareability. Our users will be able to login to our mobile App through their existing social media platforms and share the contents in the mobile App to their social media accounts easily. Other than links to the latest news, videos and photos, fighters’ ranking and statistics, this mobile app will also include 2 unique features that are the forum, and a mini-game named “fantasy”.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we acknowledge that ONE Championship has done well in the past 5 years implementing effective social media strategies. Our proposal aims to differentiate ONE Championship from its competitors through CSR, Influencers, and mobile App by offering moral and sociability values to our consumers. These efforts from ONE Championship will attract a larger pool of fans and spectators, and take a big step closer towards its goal of bringing MMA to every household in Asia.

PETA Opened a High-end Leather Store but…

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I came across an article through social media and felt the need to share it for a good cause. It’s pretty impressive for PETA to come up with such genuine and viral content that is definitely relatable to their crucial stakeholders. The video produced had about 1.4 million views in the last 2 weeks. Do take a look if you have not done so.

 

One Championship (Group 7)

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Background
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is the fastest growing sport on the planet for the simple reason that people like to see a fight – the less rules the better. One Championship is a Singapore based MMA promotion launched in 2011 and is Asia’s largest sports media property with a global broadcast to over 1 billion homes in 75 countries. It is widely recognised as the biggest MMA promotion in Asia with a 90% marketshare. One Championship currently has over 250 fighters under its banner and partnered with big corporate sponsors including G-shock, Haier, Cannon, and Under Armour.

One Championship has established presence on most of the major social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and has been actively using social media to effectively expand its organisation. In 2014, One Championship teamed up with Facebook to offer live social media integration with global TV broadcast. The effect of this collaboration effort is evident in 2015 when One Championship launched a social media promotion strategy on Facebook which doubled its pay-per-view sales.

One Championship’s main competitors in the market are established global players such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Bellator MMA.

Research Question & Objectives
While there is no doubt that One Championship will continue to maintain its stronghold as the leading MMA promotion in Asia, there are still plenty of areas One Championship can improve upon through the use of social media. Our research question will focus on
how One Championship can maximize its MMA promotion in Asia through the use of social media?

Through this study, we aim to achieve the following:

(1) Increase One Championship’s brand awareness within Asia
The fight events are held in most Asian countries including Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia and China. Through the analysis of the results gathered from Synthesio, it is evident that the events held in Singapore and Philippines generated the highest social media activities whereas lesser buzz was created for those held in Cambodia, Indonesia and China.

(2) Increase engagement with consumers and build a stronger brand community
There are already notable efforts from One Championship in attempting to engage its consumers via social media platforms, but we assessed that more exciting features can be integrated. At the same time, there will be some differences in the engagement strategies in different Asian countries and each should be unique to that specific country as factors such as lifestyle and cultural differences are taken into consideration to ensure maximum engagement with the local consumers.

(3) Improve the brand image of One Championship
Although One Championship is the leading MMA promoter in Asia, ask a typical MMA fan and he/she will more likely than not tell you that the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is still the most prestigious MMA promotion in the world and One Championship pales in comparison. Granted that UFC has been established 2 decades before One Championship, there is tremendous potential within Asia alone to elevate One Championship’s branding to be on par, if not exceeding that of UFC in the next few years.

One of the common misconceptions of MMA is that it is basically human cock fighting and the brutalness of the sport promotes violence. Although the damage inflicted in competitive fights do sometimes lead to bloody wounds, there are in fact rules adopted by all state athletics commissions known as the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts enforced with fighter safety in mind. These misconceptions, if not resolved at an early stage, would potentially erode One Championship’s brand image and affect the bottomline.

Therefore with our research question and objectives in mind, we will attempt to develop effective social media strategies that we would share with you guys in our next post and presentation.

Methodology
Our research method plans to deliver a good mix of quantitative metrics and qualitative insights to answer the research question:

(1) Analysis of social media strategy
We plan to conduct a comprehensive analysis and evaluation of the current social media content and strategy. The analysis will include:

  • Choice of social media platforms
  • Coherence of marketing strategy across platforms
  • Frequency of posting and activity volume
  • Number of followers
  • Comparison between closest competitors such as Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Bellator MMA

(2) Analysis of brand image via social media

  • Consumer sentiments

(3) Secondary research
Secondary research will be conducted to identify key trends that are driving the business of sports.

Conclusion
One of the reasons why we chose One Championship for our project is due to the growing popularity of MMA. Furthermore, the crowning of our Singapore youngest female world champion Angela Lee created a lot of buzz with her recent epic wins and inspired us to took a closer look at One Championship through the lens of their social media efforts, despite our class being female dominated and may not be as interested in MMA sports. Although One Championship has been rather successful in its marketing and advertising campaign, we do see certain areas that could be further improved so as push One Championship to the same level, if not better, than its close competitors.

We will develop a structured social media campaign that aims to complement the existing efforts of One Championship in order to maximize its MMA promotion in Asia.

By: Kevin & Jing Teng