WWE’s WrestleMania extravaganza draws sponsors into the ring

NEW YORK – WWE’s WrestleMania, the Super Bowl for the sports-entertainment company, is coming to huge audiences and far greater sponsorship revenues this weekend as it attempts to establish itself as a serious contender for big bucks from such partnerships.

WWE senior vice president and head of global sales and partnerships Craig Stimmel told The Associated Press in an interview that sponsorship revenue for this year’s event has doubled to more than $20 million, a record for any WWE event .

Those numbers are crucial given the return in January of Vince McMahon, WWE’s founder and controlling shareholder, who said the sports-entertainment company could be up for sale.

Rumors have been rife as to who might be willing to buy WWE and for how much, and it’s unknown if anyone has come forward with an offer yet. But expanding the company’s footprint across everything from TikTok to streaming channels could raise the asking price.

Marketers see WWE as a premier venue for brands because of the makeup of its core audience. This audience ranges from minors to seniors, has a wide income range, is global and passionate about the craft, said T. Maxwell, partner at Max Sports Marketing.

“WWE fans are fiercely loyal and dedicated, they’re addicted, they crave storytelling and will be WWE fans for life,” Maxwell said. “This creates an amazing opportunity for savvy brands to connect with unique audiences for a lifetime.”

Based in Stamford, Connecticut, the company is increasingly leveraging its marketing potential and finding new ways to resonate with fans and sponsors.

For the first time, WWE incorporated a single company’s (Mountain Dew) branding on the ring screen, in post-show press conferences and elsewhere at a premium live event in January. WWE also played off the product the company was introducing to consumers, a drink called “Pitch Black.” The match took place in the dark in a ring with fluorescent ring ropes and equipment.

During last year’s WrestleMania, wrestlers Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs used the colors of Mike’s Hard Lemonade to bring a new drink to the gear they wore in the ring.

Voicel said WWE will integrate corporate brands into this year’s WrestleMania in a variety of ways, including a match sponsorship, a “blurring of the fourth wall” between what home viewers see and what live viewers watch, and an augmented reality Adventure.

“We’re trying to find the perfect combination of brand and story,” saidstimmel.

WrestleMania 39, a two-day event that begins Saturday at SoFi Stadium outside of Los Angeles, has 12 sponsors, half of whom are returning from last year’s event.

While some sports leagues have faced backlash from fans trying to introduce more advertising, this doesn’t appear to be a problem for WWE.

“I think WWE fans are accepting (sponsors) a lot more than the traditional sports,” Maxwell said.

Sponsors are keen to capitalize on WWE’s social media push as the company pursues diverse online efforts to reach viewers on YouTube, TikTok and elsewhere.

The company surpassed 16 billion social video views in the last quarter of last year. It has nearly 94 million YouTube subscribers and more than 20 million followers on TikTok. His wrestlers include five of the top 15 most followed female athletes in the world on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, led by Ronda Rousey with 36.1 million followers.

WWE had more than 7.5 billion views across digital and social media in January and February this year, up 15% from the same period a year ago.

The size of the web that WWE casts to attract viewers has been noted by retail analysts.

“WWE has multiple channels to engage with customers, which is important for sponsors who don’t want to rely on just one medium,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData. “Brands are basically taking several bites of the cherry to reach customers. WWE has built an entire entertainment ecosystem that brands can tap into and use to spread their marketing messages.”

Even the timing of WrestleMania in early April, which falls between the end of the National Football League season and the early days of the Major League Baseball season, allows WWE to attract more sponsors.

“WrestleMania is our Super Bowl,” saidstimmel.

Source : www.washingtontimes.com

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