Why Wrestling’s Biggest Brand Came to Cannes (and Why It Fits Right In)

Stephanie McMahon on the media innovation and storytelling of WWE

The next time somebody asks what Chris Jericho and Sasha Banks have in common with Rigoletto and The Magic Flute, direct them to Stephanie McMahon.

"WWE is no different than a great book, play, opera, ballet, movie—it's all storytelling, so you've got protagonists versus antagonists with ultimately some sort of conflict that gets settled, but with WWE it gets settled in the ring," McMahon, chief brand officer of the pro wrestling organization, said during a chat with Adweek at Cannes Lions. Earlier, McMahon took to the festival's main stage along with wrestling superstar and actor John Cena as part of the first entertainment track at Cannes.

This was also the first time at Cannes for McMahon, the daughter of WWE's majority owner and CEO Vince McMahon and the fourth generation to run what started out as a regional wrestling promoter but would become a global enterprise reaching 650 million households. McMahon said the festival was a great opportunity to see what other brand marketers are doing—and of course, to spread the gospel of the smackdown.

She admitted there are "misperceptions" about pro wrestling—but it's part of her job to make people love it. "It still may not be someone's cup of tea—I mean, we're not going to appeal to everybody," she said. "But it's a heck of a lot of fun."