After months of rumors and hints, Brock Lesnar’s former pro wrestling manager Paul Heyman has finally entered the world of mixed martial arts, sort of. While most signs pointed to Heyman getting involved with Strikeforce in some fashion, that’s not the case, at least not yet. Instead, as he tells MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani, Heyman has formed his own ad and branding agency with EA Sports MMA as his first client. Heyman believes the key to selling EA’s new mixed martial arts video game is to sell the fighters’ personalities, and he gives us a taste of that in this first clip with Nick Diaz.
“Not since the original Nike commercials with Michael Jordan and all the guys in the beginning has there been such a personality-centric campaign, and that’s what I would like to do. I think more so than other people, that’s what we can tap into here. Real personality-centric pieces and go after the guys. There’s a real market out there for guys. People have become too soft in their campaigns because they took their eye off the ball.
“‘Oh, let’s tell people why it’s fun to play the game.’ No, tell people why they should want to be Frank Shamrock in the game and they’ll go buy the game. Tell people why they should want to be Fabricio Werdum and they’ll go buy the game to be Werdum. A lot of advertising, like everything else, second-guessed itself and overthought itself and the campaigns became built around things that won’t entice anybody, but it sure looked nice and the pieces were very artistic. So, we took it back to personalities. Why a kid should want to be Nick Diaz; why a guy should want to be Cung Le. You know, break a fighter like Frank Shamrock’s arm with a kick. Man, I want to be that dude, and I can be that dude in this game.”
Clips featuring Cung Le, Frank Shamrock, Fabricio Werdum and Gilbert Melendez are slated for release over the next two weeks.
While I’m sure many of you will cringe at more WWE crossover, Heyman says don’t worry, he’s not trying to bring pro wrestling with him.
“I’m not going to try to bring pro wrestling into MMA. What I learned in pro wrestling about promotion of a persona can come with me and how to present someone as a star can come with me. But it’s certainly not going to be that Fabricio kidnaps Fedor’s sister and the revenge happens in their rematch at the HP Pavilion. That’s not what I’m bringing to MMA. I’m bringing with me the knowledge and the lessons that I learned and how to brand the fighters that are being presented and how to brand them as stars.
“You can look at the pieces — because all five are very different from one another — I think you can look at these pieces as a demonstration to the MMA world that I have great respect for mixed martial arts and I have a great respect for the sensitivity that the audience may have that I can come from the wrestling world and that, in my mind, professional wrestling is alive and well and thriving today in the United States, only its name is mixed martial arts. It’s the logical evolution of the business and it has evolved into the one thing that sports entertainment can’t touch, which is that it’s real.”
I’m actually looking forward to seeing what Paul Heyman brings to the table in MMA. He might be a little too over the top for my taste, but I think he would make a nice addition to the Strikeforce team if they ever work something out. No offense to Scott Coker, who seems like a really nice guy, but Strikeforce really needs a frontman who can sell their product and their fighters, and Coker just doesn’t have the personality to do it on a national scale. Heyman, on the other hand, he seems quite good at grabbing and holding people’s attention.