As a marketing coup, it does not get any better than this.
CBD start-up Love Hemp Group PLC (AQSE:LIFE, OTCQB:WRHLF) one of the UK’s leading CBD and Hemp product suppliers, and UFC®, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, today announced a five-year agreement that names Love Hemp the Official Global CBD Partner of UFC®.
The multi-million-dollar, five-year deal pairs the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, and the largest pay-per-view event provider, with the leading UK supplier of hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) products.
Love Hemp will have numerous branded integrations within UFC® content on digital platforms, including social media assets and programming on UFC FIGHT PASS®, the world’s leading streaming service for combat sports.
Love Hemp’s CEO Tony Calamita had this to say about the agreement, stating in a March 16 news release:
“This is a very exciting accomplishment for our Company. We believe that the marketing opportunities this relationship provides can put Love Hemp in the top tier of major international CBD brands. We intend to use UFC®’s global reach to position Love Hemp as a trusted, premium CBD brand which we will begin to roll out globally over wider markets.”
“Love Hemp is looking forward to working with UFC® over the next five years, and beyond. This partnership kickstarts our strategy aimed at cementing Love Hemp as a globally recognised brand.”
The agreement begins on June 1 and will include several marketing and sponsorship opportunities, including allowing Love Hemp to use UFC®’s trademarks, logos, and brand.
“We’re thrilled to collaborate with Love Hemp to promote a growing, respected CBD brand that could become a global leader in this category over the life of this partnership. We know many UFC® athletes, fans, and general fitness enthusiasts use CBD for training recovery purposes, and we want to work closely with Love Hemp to continue to educate ourselves, athletes, and consumers on the efficacy and best use of CBD products.” Paul Asencio, UFC® Senior Vice President of Global Partnerships.
Revenues go ballistic
Established in 2015 by two London entrepreneurs, the Love Hemp brand has become a household name among UK cannabis consumers. Its founders were inspired by the lack of a premium CBD brand in the country, and always believed in the company’s potential to blossom once CBD hits the mainstream.
Love Hemp is now the largest supplier of CBD and hemp products in the UK, with more than 40 product lines comprising oils, sprays and vapes, and a variety of edible and water-based CBD products. These products are sold across its Love Hemp and CBDOilsUK platforms, as well as through wholesale activities via the LH Botanicals subsidiary.
The brand has already established relationships with over 2,000 stores, including leading brands such as Sainsbury’s, Boots, Ocado and Holland & Barrett.
Since its inception, sales have grown rapidly on a year-to-year basis, reaching £2.6 million in 2019. But a substantial increase in product demand during the pandemic meant Love Hemp may well see monster earnings for 2020.
In the last quarter of the year, Love Hemp absolutely obliterated its previous sales record with £1.56 million in revenues, a 97% increase from the previous quarter. For the half-year, sales amounted to approximately £2.36 million, nearly surpassing 2019’s entire total.
Love Hemp also saw its online conversion rate increase by 11% during the quarter, leading to over 69,000 units sold and more than 10,500 customer accounts created.
These numbers show more than just a successful growth story; they also suggest to us that Love Hemp has been spot on with its marketing strategy.
Indeed the Love Hemp brand is quickly gaining traction internationally, having signed mixed martial arts (MMA) legend Georges St-Pierre, widely considered one of the greatest fighters in the sport’s history, as brand ambassador. GSP — as many avid MMA fans prefer to call him — has attributed his recovery from a severe inflammatory bowel disease that forced him to retire, to the use of CBD.
Growth of a sports organization
Over the past 25 years, MMA has evolved from what some would call rule-less brawls, to the fastest growing sport in the world, mainly due to the success of Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Currently owned by Endeavor and presided over by Dana White, UFC® has come a long way since its inception in 1993. On November 12 of that year, UFC® hosted its first live event in Denver, Colorado, based on an eight-man tournament format featuring fighters from various disciplines such as karate, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, and taekwondo.
Fought in an octagon-shaped cage, the idea was to pit fighters from different fighting backgrounds against each other to see which martial art would be superior.
Stats Zone recalls how the sport quickly evolved:
There were no weight classes, no gloves, no judges, no time limit and virtually no rules for that matter. However, these events became very popular among fans allowing the UFC® to put on more shows, attract big names, building their roster and building an audience. Before they knew it, they were creating a sport.
UFC® is currently more popular than other fighting sports and it regularly achieves more pay-per-view buys than boxing, even rivaling World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
It boasts more than 625 million fans worldwide, with programming that is broadcast to over 170 countries and territories, in 40 different languages, to over 900 million TV households.
UFC® produces over 40 live events annually and consistently sells out some of the world’s most prestigious arenas.
Headquartered in Las Vegas, UFC®’s current roster of athletes features nearly 600 men and women representing over 55 countries.
It was acquired in 2016 for $4 billion, one of the largest transactions in sports history, by global sports, entertainment, and fashion leader Endeavor, along with strategic investors Silver Lake Partners and KKR.
UFC® has passed several landmark events that have made it into one of the world’s most successful sports organizations.
Since Zuffa LLC purchased it in 2001, UFC®’s growth has snowballed, due in large part to the ambitions of owners Frank and Lorenzon Fertitta and Dana White, who were keen to increase the number of events and expand UFC® beyond a handful of American fighters to athletes in many countries.
Key chapters in the story include:
In 2020 Forbes valued UFC® at $7 billion, thanks in part to a $500 million deal with ESPN.
Statista notes the organization’s brand value soared by 335% in a single year, 2015-16, owing to a massive gain in popularity caused by interest in star fighters such as Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey.
These highly profitable fights, which raked in millions on pay-per-view channels, without a doubt helped boost UFC®’s value, when the organization was sold in late 2016 for $4 billion.
The match between McGregor and Nate Diaz in August 2016, pulled in 1.65 million pay-per-view buys, an all-time high.
This, however, was superseded by Khabib vs Conor on October 6, 2018, which garnered 2.4 million pay-per-view buys.
The best-attended live event happened at UFC® 193 in 2015, when 56,214 spectators came to watch Rousey vs Holm battle it out in the octagon.
According to Statista, Georges St-Pierre currently holds the record for most takedowns in UFC® fights as well as most strikes landed.
Sports and CBD
A charismatic, era-defining figure in the world of mixed martial arts, Georges “Rush” St-Pierre — also known as “GSP” — is undoubtedly one of the greatest fighters in MMA history.
In December 2013, Georges announced his retirement from the sport with an impressive 28-2 record, while also holding the UFC® record for most wins in title bouts.
After a four-year layoff, he returned to the octagon in November 2017 at UFC® 217, where he defeated Michael Bisping by submission in the third round to win the UFC® Middleweight Championship, becoming the fourth fighter in the history of the organization to become a multi-division champion.
However, his UFC® comeback was short-lived. In December 2017, Georges was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, forcing him to vacate the UFC® middleweight title just 34 days after holding the belt.
An inflammatory bowel disease that causes irritation, inflammation and sores in the digestive tract, ulcerative colitis can be debilitating and sometimes leads to life-threatening complications.
Georges has often attributed his speedy recovery to the use of CBD, which was one of the main reasons why he signed up to become a brand ambassador for Love Hemp.
“Using Love Hemp’s CBD products in my training helped my recovery and overall well-being greatly, I embrace this opportunity to help create innovative products and grow the Love Hemp brand so that others can benefit as well,” GSP said in a statement.
But the health benefits of CBD go well beyond treating diseases like ulcerative colitis, as Georges points out.
In a series of training videos called Love Hemp Diaries, he detailed how Love Hemp products can be used during his daily routines, highlighting their various uses such as joint pain relief and as a sleep aid.
The UFC® Performance Institute, the world’s first mixed martial arts multi-disciplinary research, innovation, and training center, opened in Las Vegas in 2017 has served more than 500 athletes over the past four years. The facility is a global leader in athletic performance research and provides support and educational services to athletes on health, well-being, nutrition, and injury prevention.
Love Hemp branding will be prominently integrated into the UFC® Performance Institute, signaling to athletes that UFC® wants to play a prominent role in helping to educate them on CBD use and the role it plays in athlete health and injury recovery.
Along with helping elite athletes like GSP to recover from serious illnesses, how might CBD help in other areas of sports, such as stress relief and pain management?
During our current era of opioids addiction and abuse, athletes are increasingly curious about CBD’s promise of pain relief and reduced inflammation, without the risks of over-the-counter pain relievers or dangerous opioids like fentanyl.
Train Right reports some athletes have found CBD reduces or eliminates their need for traditional pain meds in dealing with exercise-related pain. They may also have an anti-inflammatory effect, by dialing down the immune-system response to hard workouts and can settle the gut in athletes suffering from gastrointestinal issues.
Love Hemp’s landmark deal with UFC comes at an auspicious time in the cannabis industry, which includes CBD and hemp products.
Curaleaf Holdings Inc., a leading US provider of cannabis consumer products, has agreed to buy Emmac Life Sciences Ltd. in a deal worth approximately $285 million.
This acquisition marks Curaleaf’s entry into Europe’s rapidly growing cannabis market, turning the company into a dominant player internationally with presence in eight countries. Emmac is currently the largest vertically integrated independent cannabis company in Europe.
Europe is viewed by many as the new battleground for the global cannabis industry; it is a fast-growing market that has benefited from the overwhelmingly high demand for cannabis during the covid-19 pandemic.
Top cannabis companies like Curaleaf — currently valued at CAD$13 billion — have realized that gaining a foothold in Europe is now a must to remain competitive.
While Europe only allows medical cannabis now, industry players are bracing themselves for an expanded market as more countries consider recreational use. The Netherlands and Switzerland, for example, are expected to implement recreational programs by the end of the year.
In late 2020, the market experienced its biggest breakthrough yet, with the European Union ruling that products containing CBD, an active ingredient in cannabis, are no longer listed as narcotics.
Taking all the upgraded regulations into account, MarketsandMarkets has set the entire European cannabis market at a value of about $37 billion by 2027, rising at a near 30% CAGR during the forecast period.
Emmac’s revenues as of year-end 2019 were only about $6.9 million, meaning that the big cannabis players are not messing about and are willing to pay a premium, in Curaleaf’s case nearly half of its annual revenue, on pure potential.
Curaleaf’s major acquisition is not only a sign that cannabis companies are swimming in cash, but the industry is thriving. It may even serve as a catalyst for further deals.
Love Hemp is AOTH’s number one pick in the global CBD space.
Love Hemp and Curaleaf have a shared interest in marketing their products in Europe, currently considered the most lucrative market for CBD.
At AOTH we believe Love Hemp is currently undervalued by the market, especially considering:
That is over six times the number of people who tuned in to watched Super Bowl LV a few weeks ago.
Love Hemp, a CBD and hemp expert, has novelty on its side, keeps breaking sales targets, and just signed a multi-year-multi-million-dollar deal with one of the world’s most successful sports organizations, the UFC®.
It is hard to put a price on that kind of publicity.
Love Hemp Group PLC
Shares Outstanding 401,440,000m
Market cap US$13.8m
World High Life website
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