A big challenge for wrestling - especially when it comes to television - has been the perception its fans have less-than-desirable demographics when it comes to education and income.
WWE recognized this and set out to change their image, leading to things like the PG Era, and public relations efforts like the Be A S.T.A.R. initiative from Stephanie McMahon’s branding division. And while we don’t have access to data like advertising rates, anecdotally it appears the company is attracting more mainstream and high-profile partners.
Kay Jewelers and Toys ‘R’ Us are sponsoring this weekend’s TLC pay-per-view (PPV). The latter is a pretty logical tie-in, but the former is not the type of sponsor we’re used to seeing associated with pro wrestling. Today, WWE announced that for the second straight year, Snickers would partner with them to promote WrestleMania.
It’s not all philanthropy. NBCUniversal is said to be pushing WWE as an affordable way for big-name advertisers to get their name and products in front of a sizeable audience. And all that talk of trending hashtags during Raw and social media scores for PPVs does serve a purpose. In discussing renewing their relationship for Mania in Orlando next year, Allison Miazga-Bedrick, Snickers Brand Director for Mars, Inc. said:
We’re back for a second consecutive year as the presenting sponsor of WrestleMania 33 to once again share our “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” message to an extremely engaged WWE fan base in unique ways.
Some of the shift in WWE’s advertiser portfolio comes from changing their image away from “HLA” to “Make A Wish”, but it seems more of it has to do with the company proving its fans have a voracious appetite for their content. As Michelle Wilson, WWE Chief Revenue & Marketing Officer, said in the press release for the Snickers’ partnership:
As the exclusive presenting partner of one of the biggest sports and entertainment events in the world, Snickers will reach our global fan base that consumes content across all platforms.
In a landscape where almost everything is a niche product, Vince McMahon’s company is telling partners that their segment of the market is hungrier than other’s. Which is a great selling point for a brand like Snickers.
Will it convince more mainstream advertisers to get into the sports entertainment business?