Cage-Fighter Sponsored by Pot ETF Issuer in Rare Marketing Move
By Kristine Owram
The issuer of the world’s largest pot ETF is embracing celebrities’ growing interest in cannabis, sponsoring a UFC fighter nicknamed the Boa Constrictor.
In a highly unusual move for a provider of exchange-traded funds, ETF Managers Group LLC has signed on as the official training sponsor of Alexey Oleynik, the ninth-ranked heavyweight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, a mixed-martial arts organization. The issuer is best known for the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF, which has about $1.1 billion invested in cannabis-related companies.
Several recent tweets from Oleynik’s Twitter account show him training — and even mowing the lawn — in T-shirts emblazoned with MJ, the pot ETF’s ticker, and the logo of ETF Managers Group. While most tweets don’t reference ETFs beyond tagging that fund and including ETFMG’s Twitter handle, one post in March described the company as an “ETF heavyweight.”
My wife and I are excited to be sponsored by #ETF heavyweight @ETFMG $MJ! Here we come #UFCOttawa #UFCFightNight 05/04 @UFC_CA @UFC #UFC #Oleynik #mma #alexeyoleynik #ETFHeavyWeight pic.twitter.com/6aYoNNdoX0
— Alexey Oleynik (@oleynikufc) March 26, 2019
“It’s definitely not something you see as a common practice,” Tricia Vanderslice, ETFMG’s chief marketing officer, said in a phone interview. “We like to look at unique marketing that does justice to both the sector our product represents and the audience that we’re trying to hit and speak to and educate.”
MJ is one of the best-performing unleveraged U.S. ETFs of the year. Securities and Exchange Commission filings show that less than 12% of its shares are owned by institutional investors such as mutual funds. The UFC sponsorship is targeted at individual shareholders who don’t necessarily follow the financial media but may be big UFC fans, Vanderslice said.
“You hit that group of Average Joe investors that might be using E*Trade, they might be using Robinhood, and a big piece of that is brand awareness,” she said.
Read the full story on Bloomberg.