Great brands forge unique identities. If you buy that, then Georges St. Pierre, reigning UFC welterweight champion, is a branding black belt, kicking his world of mixed martial arts into mainstream sponsorship with brutal elegance.
Gatorade renewed the original, one-year contract based on Georges’ reception. He’s Canada’s favorite son and two-time Canadian Athlete of the Year.Under Armour followed, signing St. Pierre to a multi-year package, making him the “face of Under Armour’s underwear.” UA’s multi-media platform tapped U.S. retailers: a cardboard Georges, menacing in his boxer briefs, looking for a fight.
In February 2010, GQ magazine featured St. Pierre sporting his signature line of Affliction MMA gear. Affliction and Georges have been long-term partners, only jaded by UFC President Dana White’s 2008 decision to ban Affliction from UFC events. The breakup lasted a year. During Affliction’s estrangement, George wore the hardcore MMA brand, Silver Star.
OK, St. Pierre has grabbed some low-hanging fruit. His RUSHFIT and RIP:60 home fitness programs do scream infomercial. But, he’s also testing vertical markets, partnering with New York’s Mission Skincare. Got anything for scar tissue and cauliflower ear?
Tattoo needles don’t write endorsement checks, and most fighters slap glorified bumper stickers from fringe sponsors on their trunks to supplement a battle-to-battle paycheck. GSP, with his silk suits and warrior spirit, is changing all that.