Harley-Davidson knew it found a strong match when it became the first blue-chip corporate sponsor for UFC® in 2007.
The relationship is still going strong, leading to a new three-year sponsorship deal announced last week.
“UFC is still the fastest-growing sport in America, has the youngest audience and has one of the most loyal followings,” said Harley-Davidson U.S. Marketing Director Dino Bernacchi. “These are things that drew us to UFC in the first place. This is an audience that we need and want.”
Harley-Davidson launched its sponsorship at a UFC event in Las Vegas, home of the organization’s global headquarters. Since 2007, as part of its agreement, Harley-Davidson has been featured in pay-per-view and television broadcasts and online.
A prominent Harley-Davidson® bar and shield logo also has appeared on the mat inside the Octagon® where UFC fights take place.
“UFC has a lot of great qualities. It’s a tough, physical, rugged sport that involves a lot of power and endurance,” Bernacchi said. “It’s perfect for us when it comes to alignment with our brand.”
Long-time UFC President Dana White is a Harley-Davidson rider, as are many UFC athletes, Bernacchi noted. Among them are former two-time UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, who owns a Road Glide®; former bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw, who rides an Iron 883™; an Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, who has a new Road Glide.
The partnership with UFC has also benefitted from the growing popularity of its female athletes, including Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm, as Harley-Davidson focuses on attracting more women to its brand.
“UFC certainly has expanded the universe of fans,” Bernacchi exclaimed.
The Hometown Throwdown, an annual promotion and fight sponsorship through which fans can vote for their city to host a UFC event and corresponding motorcycle rally, will continue under Harley-Davidson’s new deal with UFC.
Harley-Davidson will also be looking to add additional UFC activations with a promotion focused on showing support for the U.S. military. Harley-Davidson has a long history of supporting current and former members of the military, and UFC has raised money for the Armed Forces with its Fight for the Troops promotion.
Working with its dealer network to determine ways to leverage the relationship with the UFC is also a priority, Bernacchi said.
As such, Harley-Davidson is partnering with UFC to have Harley-Davidson dealers host UFC Viewing Party events as part of the all-new H-D 101 program, designed to help dealers reach and attract non-riders to the brand. The first event will be part of the UFC® 196: MCGREGOR vs. DIAZ broadcast live at San Diego Harley-Davidson.