You thought Lanny Poffo was a genius?
He wasn't racking up multiple awards across the globe, like Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White. In fact, the Las Vegas fight boss was recently named 2014 Brand Genius winner for sports, thanks to his mixed martial arts (MMA) empire.
White believes that fighters ("badasses" is his preferred term) have a longer shelf life than other celebrity athletes. "Ask people all around the world who Muhammad Ali is, who Mike Tyson is, who Bruce Lee is," he points out, and they will know. Just try that with a cricket star.
But his greatest marketing moves have been in the media arena. With the Octagon (a 750-square-foot pen) as UFC's stage, White has built the franchise into the largest pay-per-view event on the planet, with 40 live fights per year and an overall presence of 1 billion viewers in 149 counties. That reach has a lot to do with Fox Sports Media Group, which White inked a deal with three years ago.
And the FOX deal still has four years to go.
White and the Fertitta brothers were able to take a dying brand and transform it into a global phenomenon. While it remains unregulated in New York, the world's largest combat sports promotion has widened its global footprint, and will make its debut in Mexico next month in Mexico City.