UFC Live-Wires the City of Las Vegas During Fight Week
Long before mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey’s famous armbar hit the mainstream, the Ultimate Fighting Championship franchise had been experiencing massive growth in popularity. While the fights take place in an enclosed octagon ring, the experience for fans extends beyond that to TV, where fans watch young fighters break into UFC on “The Ultimate Fighter.” That accessibility to the brand is then amplified at UFC live events, where fans rub shoulders with UFC fighters, or “Octagon Girls,” TV personalities and Hall of Fame legends.
For the 2015 International Fight Week in July, UFC wanted to take the potential for amplification to the next level and deliver unprecedented access to fans. The resulting event technology strategy was just as unprecedented as the objective, with the brand live-wiring the entire host city of Las Vegas. Tens of thousands of fans could simply tap their UFC credentials (via RFID/NFC badge, wristband or QR code) throughout Sin City to earn UFC Rewards points, snap photos at photo ops, participate in leader boards and gain exclusive access to pool and viewing parties—and then instantly share their experiences on social networks. The campaign, dubbed Las Vegas TakeOver, also included the integration of sponsor activations by Reebok, Kraft, Bud Light, Monster Energy, Toyo Tires, Harley-Davidson, EA Sports, MusclePharm, UFC Gym and MetroPCS.
Tap stations dotted the city from pools to hotel lobby kiosks, to the route of a 5K run and along the Las Vegas Monorail, and it spanned not only from one end of The Strip to the other, but also reached out to Fremont Street, Red Rock Resort and Hendersonville. The UFC Mobile app tied it all together, keeping fans aware of all the activities around Vegas and delivering unique content. The campaign unleashed hundreds of devices: laptops, tablets, handhelds, rewards check-in kiosks, drones for video, RFID readers, QR scanners, touch screens, DSLR cameras, mobile devices, video cameras and the Microsoft Azure Cloud infrastructure that linked all the devices together in real-time.
UFC and participating sponsors were able to monitor activations from Thuzi’s technology platform anywhere in the world on their own mobile devices gleaning information such as attendee location information, time stats (such as how many fans touch an activation kiosk and when), how many pieces of content were posted by a specific fan and where, traffic flow and amplification.
Among the knockout results from UFC TakeOver was increased throughput. Wait times to meet fighters went from hours in 2014 to minutes in 2015 thanks to the RFID/NFIC integration. UFC fan amplification also resulted in millions of friends interacting with branded content that was curated at venues throughout Las Vegas during the week. More than 13,000 fans participated in at least one activation with many fans participating in as many as 85 activations. Now that’s worth fighting about.