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UFC Takes R&R

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LOS ANGELES Independent R&R Partners has won initial AOR duties for the Ultimate Fighting Championship league, according the agency.

The league has spent $3 million annually in measured media promoting individual fights, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. But the new agency relationship would take the league into the realm of branding on the cusp of its entry into the European market, which the UFC is expected to announce this week.

Paul McGuire, vp, integrated media at the Las Vegas agency, said that the business was reviewed but could not disclose the contenders. "It was a hard fought battle, but a great team has emerged between R&R and the UFC," he said.

McGuire said that while the hybrid-fighting matches are and would probably remain popular among 18-34 males, R&R's charge is to "grow from the niche target audience and make it a more viable product for all demos and educate sports fans on the sophistication of the sport." Because the fighters use combinations of martial arts, wrestling and boxing, there are many nuances influencing how fighters are rated and appreciated, he said.

Aegis Group's Carat will handle media in the U.S. Aegis' Feather Brooksbank, Manchester, England, has won media duties for the U.K. and Europe, where the sport is about to get a big push, according to McGuire.

"What intrigued [the UFC] is what we did for the definition of Las Vegas for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority," said Mary Ann Mele, partner and chief strategic officer at R&R. "And that's a unique position to start from. We went into the pitch with great ideas, not necessarily creative executions."

"We think very highly of Billy V. [R&R CEO Billy Vassiliadis] and everything he has accomplished," said Dana White, president of UFC, based in Las Vegas. "R&R has put together one of the most memorable campaigns in advertising history, 'What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas' and because of that we have a lot of confidence in them."