From MMA Payout.com
On Wednesday, The New York Times featured Georges St. Pierre in its Fashion and Style section as an “Up Close” feature. His appearance reflects the push by the UFC to create a face for its brand as it continues to move into the mainstream.
The article follows St. Pierre as he uncomfortably navigates New York Fashion Week. St. Pierre is portrayed as a humble man that is a master at fighting. The article is GSP’s introduction to the mainstream media. Note, the article placement is not in the Sports section but Fashion and Style. Although a quick reference is made about fashion, the rest of the article concerns St. Pierre as he moves from function to function even though he admits hating the process.
In the article, The New York Times depicts MMA fans as people that would not venture past a sports page, if they read:
Mr. St-Pierre has a rabid following among testosterone-fueled, under-35 head-banger types who, in another era, rallied around Hulk Hogan.
Does this depiction help or hurt St. Pierre’s personal brand? Here, we have a good-looking, soft-spoken killer in a nice suit. Do mainstream readers marvel at how he does it? Or, do they consider St. Pierre an anomaly in a barbaric sport.
Does the article help the UFC brand? It stereotypes the UFC fan, but is the article a positive step in the direction of changing the perception of the UFC and MMA?
Bloody Elbow opines:
If the sport is going to truly break into the mainstream consciousness it will require one or two athletes to become major stars. GSP is making his bid now. Backed by aggressive Hollywood manager Shari Spencer and sponsors like Gatorade and Under Armour, GSP has the pieces in place.
(via Wikimedia Commons)
If Chuck Liddell was the initial face of the UFC, the UFC is making a push for St. Pierre to push its brand in the coming years (Jon Jones, you are on deck). St. Pierre has the rugged good looks and is on top of the UFC landscape as he owns his division. He is the perfect spokesperson to lead the UFC into mainstream consciousness. Even if the Hulk Hogan analogy is perceived as a negative, the fact remains that Hogan brought the WWF (now WWE) into the mainstream. Can St. Pierre do the same for the UFC?
St. Pierre is a likeable figure as evidenced by his mainstream sponsors and his appearances in articles like this and other opportunities to spread his name. If he is able to loosen up and become more personable during his appearances, he could become more marketable than he is today.