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Volume 22 No. 15
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UFC signs Edge, retail promotion in works

The UFC will cross another threshold this week, landing broad-based consumer brand Edge Shave Gel to an official-status sponsorship that kicks off in July with a national retail promotion that includes endorsement deals for five fighters.

The promotion follows several renewals for the UFC, which earlier this year signed Anheuser-Busch through 2014 and Harley-Davidson through 2012. The UFC also is closing in on a deal with a U.S. automaker, sources said, which would mark a breakthrough in that critical category for the promoter.

“As much as we wanted a partnership relationship with Edge, the one specific thing we wanted was for them to do nationwide packaging at retail,” said Bryan Johnston, chief marketing officer of the UFC. “Having our fighters out there in grocery stores, in 7-Eleven and convenience stores, that’s huge for us.”

UFC would not discuss financial terms.

Edge already had a visible presence in the UFC as a sponsor of “The Ultimate Fighter,” the UFC’s flagship reality show on Spike. Spike controls all sponsorship and advertising on the show, a structure that, for example, has allowed Miller Lite to occupy the center of the television show’s octagon even though A-B is the UFC’s official beer. Signing Edge in the men’s grooming category gives the UFC a level of visibility at national retail outlets that only A-B has provided in the past, Johnston said. The deal includes options for future national retail promotions beginning in the first quarter of next year.

The in-store promotion, which will run through Sept. 30, will put the UFC logo on Edge packaging and fighter images on point-of-sale materials. The focus of the program is a Facebook fan vote that will select one of four featured up-and-coming fighters to represent Edge, with the winner landing a one-year endorsement deal with the brand. An online component will give Edge consumers access to training tips from UFC fighters, including popular former champion B.J. Penn.