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Point of Debate: The Name Game

In 2014, the FIM Motocross World Championship will undergo some rebranding, in order to try and help the sport progress further. Youthstream have announced that they will be making a few different changes in order to achieve this, all of which are positive, it seems. However, some people have questioned whether it is necessary to change the name of the premier MX1 class to MXGP.

Lewis Phillips: I do not think that changing the name of the MX1 class to MXGP is going to have a negative affect on the series. However, I do not believe that this change is needed. Overall, there were no problems with the name MX1; I never heard anyone complain that the label was confusing, or restrictive for their marketing strategy. In fact, the people that are involved in other series around the world are envious of the names MX1 and MX2, as they appeared to work perfectly.

So, with that in mind, it seemed most peculiar that they would choose to alter a part of the series that seems to be faultless. You know what they say: if it is not broken, do not fix it! It is obvious that there are a couple of problems with the FIM Motocross World Championship currently, but the class names were not one of them! The MX1 class is something that is well known, and respected. But, by changing the name, the nine-year history of MX1 has been erased; we are starting again! Surely consistency is most important with a series such as this?

It seems that the main reason for changing the name to MXGP is so that the casual fan will understand that the MX1 class is the pinnacle of the sport. But, what about the casual fans that have come across the series in recent years? Now, they may come across an MXGP event in 2014, and struggle to understand what happened to MX1, and what this new MXGP class is. Evidently, there are some positives and negatives with every idea; it’s never going to be smooth sailing.

In my opinion, the class names MX1 and MX2 are self-explanatory; it is quite clear that MX1 is the main event. I do not believe that changing the name to MXGP is going to change the way that anyone looks at the premier division. But, what it is going to do is take something away from the MX2 class, which I do not agree with. In an ideal world, I would like both MX1 and MX2 to be looked at as equal. MX1, or MXGP as it will now be called, will always be the pinnacle of the sport; at some point every rider has to transition from the 250f up to the bigger bike. But, why should the MX2 class be looked down on? Every rider in that class is just as talented; more often than not, the best racing is in MX2! At the end of the day, the class names represent the bike size, which is why motocross cannot be compared to other sports. The MX1 class doesn’t necessarily have the biggest names.

Interestingly, the AMA used to adapt this approach with their series. The 450f class in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series was called the ‘Supercross’ class not too long ago, for example. However, they moved away from the name, because it just didn’t work, or make much sense. Now, they have reverted back to the more traditional 450SX and 250MX class names. The MXGP series should learn from that, surely?

I do understand what Giuseppe Luongo is trying to achieve by making this change. I can also see how it will benefit the series with TV coverage, among other things. However, it is not going to help the whole series; it is only going to help MX1! It seems they are effectively killing off the MX2 series, which helps their biggest stars grow and develop.

Jonathan McCready: From 2014 the name of the premier class of the world motocross championship will be MXGP instead of the former MX1 title it has held for the last ten years. There was nothing inherently wrong with MX1 as a name but MXGP appears to be a way of further promoting the main class. It has worked in Moto GP and for my money it is a smart move by Youthstream to try it in motocross – although it seemed a bit of a strange move to begin with.

This is the class that is being marketed to sponsors, to new fans and to new media. It is much easier to market the world championship if the name of the main class is the essentially the name of the product/sport. As is already evident with the new MXGP computer game people can immediately associate the world championship with the main class, it is a two in one name. That is especially useful when selling to new sponsors, TV network with the ultimate goal of bringing new fans to the sport. The simpler it is the more people that should come on board.

GL wants to market one main class where all the best riders compete. MXGP heightens the prestige of the main class and signals his intent to market that class as the main event where all the best riders are. It creates more of a chasm between MX2 and MXGP and that pyramid viewpoint is what GL is after.

Every time people say MXGP they will simultaneously think of the sport, the World championship and the main class. Names like Cairoli, Paulin, Desalle, Searle etc will immediately spring to mind.  You won’t have to ask if it’s MX2 or MX1 because everyone will know what it refers too. That, as a marketing tool, is priceless. It also makes it clear to young riders that should aspire to be an MXGP rider and not just be content in MX2.

The two biggest two wheeled sport in the world are Supercross and Moto GP, both those series have one main class where all the best race and it works.  So it makes sense for YS to adopt this more aggressive marketing strategy to promote their main class in the world championship.

The new branding looks cool, is simpler and seems to have given a new motivation to everyone to market the sport harder to reach more people and, hopefully, more TV stations.  If motocross is to grow, it has to be sellable and the MXGP rebranding makes it as easier sell. Let’s just hope it works.

Words by Lewis Phillips and Jonathan McCready

Image courtesy of Kawasaki Racing

MX Vice Editor || 25

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