Rousey’s Redemption – When Women Empowerment Meets Branding

“I’m fine not being perfect”

Reebok nor UFC has “officially” named it this…but I’m going to go ahead and call these next few months the Ronda Rousey Redemption Tour (sponsored by Reebok…).

The 29 year old Olympian and former Bantamweight Champion Rousey is a recognizable force. Love or hate her, there’s no denying that she made people pay attention to the female division of mixed martial arts.

After breaking records and threading an undefeated 12-0 streak, Rousey’s outspoken attitude started to turn a vast majority of the public off. Not everyone was ready for a confident, blunt, trash talking woman. After taking several kicks and straight jab crosses to the face, Rousey and her dominance were forced to eat crow after loosing her title via KO to another Olympian in Holly Holm. And since then, her appearances have been slim to none.

Some say she went into hiding. Others called her a coward for not coming right back. But what Rousey has done, is set herself up for the perfect story of redemption. Can she come back and reclaim her throne? Has she been humbled and grown as a person? These questions will remain. That is until she decides to answer them in the cage that she owned for so long, and in front of millions who want to see the next act of her story unfold.

What better scenario for brand activation and engagement.

The perfect 12-0 record Rousey once held and sheer dominance of her performances created a set of unrealistic expectations for the fight fan community. “HA! That’s what she gets” or “I knew she wasn’t perfect” and “Wait, she’s actually human?” These expectancies mimicked that of what a chauvinistic society expects of women – “perfection.” “Flawlessness.”

Social media has several positive benefits in terms of breaking global barriers, creating accessibility, and sparking communication – but negatives come with that as well. The door is wide open for “Thumb Thugs” to come out and bully or speak negatively without any serious ramifications to anyone they want…including Rousey.

The bad apples of social media have left such a sour taste in Rousey’s mouth that it has changed her perception of the platform. In fact, it has also affected the way she associates and behaves around people in real life, not just digitally. But instead of talking trash right back, a much more reserved Rousey has used the disparaging comments as motivation to actually embrace her imperfections (and 1 loss record).

From brute to booster, Rousey is now a champion advocate for women empowerment.  #PerfectNever is Reebok’s latest campaign in which Rousey is the lead spokeswoman.

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Rousey has activated a unique opportunity where brands (in this case Reebok & UFC by extension) can stand for something greater than themselves. As a result, consumers are able to trigger the 3Es:

Emotion – Engagement – Experience.

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Through the conduit of both Rousey’s personal and professional narrative, Reebok has embraced these Es in an effort to redefine their brand story and distinguish their identity from its nostalgic past. We all have an innate desire for belonging  and a social identity that requires memorable and commitment-worthy experiences. So these are the simple sentiments that every brand and agency interested in consumer behavior ought to prompt:

Let me feel it. Let me share it. And let me remember it…forever. 

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