WME-IMG represented Professional Bull Riders (PBR) and UFC for years, so it knew their business potential before acquiring them.
More stars equals more business. Breakout bull rider Bonner Bolton is now also a WME-IMG model, and 40 more cowboys are getting the glam treatment. Next up: Turning dozens of both male and female UFC fighters into household names.
Fashion events and emerging sports such as PBR are platforms for TV shows, digital series, documentaries, apps—anything that can be turned into content.
WME-IMG mixes music, celebrity, fashion, and food to create an event. It’s added screenings and concerts to PBR contests and recruited celebrities such as Ben Affleck to bring glamour to UFC.
New York Fashion Week introduced pop-up shops during the event. Brad Paisley headlined a free concert series during college-football weekends.
WME-IMG matches brands such as Target and Intel with Fashion Week to create additional consumer experiences. It has helped the beer giant InBev get into e-sports and daily fantasy to support these burgeoning activities.
WME-IMG creates digital homes for the content it creates and coalesces superfans around them. There’s M2M for fashion, Fight Pass for UFC, and PBR for rodeo (in 2017).
Weeks after Made, traditionally a downtown New York fashion event, debuted in Los Angeles, WME-IMG brought the concept to Berlin. UFC’s potential in China contributed to the agency’s ardor to purchase it.
PBR is an incubator for what WME-IMG might do with UFC. Experiments with Made lead to new ideas for Fashion Week.
A version of this article appeared in the December 2016/January 2017 issue of Fast Company magazine.