By Barry Janoff
(Originally Published in MediaPost)
March 31, 2017: If you are one of the more than 70,000 fans who will be in Orlando’s Citrus Bowl on Sunday (April 2) to see WrestleMania 33 in person, or one of the millions worldwide watching it stream live on WWE Network, or one of the estimated hundred thousand in Orlando specifically for WWE WrestleMania Week, one thing is certain: You not only will get your fill of WWE superstars, you’ll also see lots of activation by WWE partners and sponsors.
5-Hour Energy has signed on as presenting sponsor for WWE’s developmental series NXT Takeover (April 1 in Orlando’s Amway Center) and the NXT Takeover pre-show on WWE Network, complete with heavy digital and social presence across WWE’s global platforms, including a sponsored Instagram "story" the day after WrestleMania (April 3).
WWE this week signed a multi-year agreement naming StubHub the company’s exclusive ticket resale marketplace for fans in the U.S. and Canada, including Wrestlemania Week events.
Also in the Wrestlemania 33 ring: Snickers returning for its second year as WrestleMania presenting sponsor, as well as WWE partners DiGiorno, Cricket Wireless, Mattel, Foot Locker and Puma.
WWE said sponsorship has increased four times overall since 2010 and not just due to WrestleMania.
"When you have a brand with the global appeal of WWE, you have to make sure your partners amplify the message you want to take to the marketplace," said John Brody, evp-global sales & partnerships for WWE. "We feel very confident about the partnerships we have.
"We are allowed to be selective when it comes to signing deals and tying our intellectual property to their intellectual property. They are the conduits to the fans. When you look at the brands that are our partners, it speaks volumes about the power of WWE," said Brody.
Snickers will be present throughout WrestleMania 33 Week with sampling, signage and other activation. The Mars Inc. brand has also launched several national TV spots, via BBBO NY and WWE’s in-house creative team, touting the “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” mantra with such WWE talent as Rusev & Lana, Bayley, Sheamus, Ric Flair, The Miz & Maryse, Enzo and Big Cass and The New Day.
WWE star Sasha Banks appears in a digital spot as part of DiGiorno’s multi-platform alliance. A separate 30-second spot will air during WrestleMania 33’s pre-show.
The pizza brand will also have digital and social activation, including custom banner ads on WWE.com with the message: "If you’re watching WrestleMania 33 at home, don’t go delivery, go DiGiorno!" A sponsored Twitter Amplify program, featuring WrestleMania-themed content, will appear before, during and after WrestleMania 33.
Wholly owned AT&T subsidiary Cricket Wireless will air a 30-second spot during the WrestleMania 33 broadcast and appear on WWE.com, YouTube and other social assets with banner ads and branded content.
Mattel will sponsor the WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony (March 31) and, like other WWE partners, have presence at WrestleMania Axxess, WWE’s four-day interactive and sponsor-laden fanfest (March 31- April 2 in the Orange County Convention Center).
A new licensing/distribution deal with Foot Locker and Puma offers limited-edition footwear and apparel featuring WWE icons, available nationwide beginning April 1, with special items available only in their Orlando locations.
"When you talk about how we can impact our partners, we have unique positioning. We are at the intersection between sports and entertainment," said Brody. "And we have something others sports and entertainment properties don’t have: a one-stop shopping approach. We can offer a 360-degree approach as to how you market.
"Snickers is a great example. When we talked to the folks at Mars Inc. about one-stop shopping about a 360-degree platform, for us that means a live event, WrestleMania. Then you support it through different forms of media. We have more than 750 million followers on social media across 17 different platforms."
Via its YouTube Channel, WWE said it has had more than 12 billion views over the past 12 months, which places it among the leaders of sports properties on the platform.
Brody said the WWE’s one-stop shopping and 360-degree strategy is epitomized by its Snickers partnership.
"We have superstars, but we don’t integrate one superstar, make one appearance," said Brody. "We have integrated some two dozen of our stars into the campaign, including seven different pieces of content. They stay within the Snickers voice but have their own WWE message. It is amazing how much content we produce, how much our superstars are integrated in to the messages.
"We want to make it easy for partners to activate across all of our platforms. It is seamless. We deliver for them. And then it is incumbent for my team and me to over-deliver," said Brody.
WWE said that WrestleMania 32 in AT&T Stadium generated an event record $170.4 million in spending by visitors to the Dallas/Arlington region, the fifth consecutive year that WrestleMania generated more than $100 million in economic impact for its host region.
WrestleMania 34 is scheduled for the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, April 8, 2018.
In addition to WWE stars, fans at WrestleMania 33 will see music stars.
Scheduled to perform on April 2 are Pitbull, who will be joined by Flo Rida, Stephen Marley and LunchMoney Lewis.
WWE in also dedicated to its cause marketing efforts. Among the platforms is Superstars for Hope, a global online fundraising campaign with Prizeo, a trip to WrestleMania 34, with proceeds benefiting Boys & Girls Clubs of America. (Details here.)
WWE and its stars will also be involved on the ground during WrestleMania 33 Week, continuing a tradition from past WrestleMania stops.
"Our partners have really embraced the platform of WrestleMania Week, including more than two dozen corporate social responsibility events," said Brody. "We want to celebrate the event, create amazing content and stream live on WWE Network, but we also want to leave a lasting impact on the community and the region.
"Vince McMahon (majority owner, CEO, chairman), Stephanie McMahon (chief brand officer) and Michelle Wilson (chief revenue and CMO) take this very seriously," he said.
As for the future of WWE and WrestleMania.
"We certainly are on the right path," said Brody. "We are resonating not just with core fans but casual and even people who are not WWE fans. You see us everywhere. The Today Show. ESPN. Our partners at NBCU. We are a key piece of the overall sports and entertainment landscape. And the culture landscape.