World Wrestling Entertainment's selection last week of Media Kitchen to handle planning and buying is part of a drive to lure former fans—men who loved the franchise as teenagers—back to the ring.
"Every meeting I go to, there is someone that says, 'Oh my God! I used to be the biggest fan.' " said vp of marketing Daniel Levi. "There's still an emotional connection between that person and WWE. We want to get them re-engaged."
Media Kitchen, the media arm of MDC Partners' Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners in New York, joins Kanter International in Philadelphia on WWE's $8 million account. Kanter was hired last year to work on brand strategy. WWE handles creative in-house.
Media Kitchen will help tout the client's two weekly TV programs, Spike TV's Monday Night Raw and WB's Smackdown!, as well as promotions like its "Raw Diva" search, a quasi-beauty pageant that kicks off July 19. The shop bested four other finalists, Havas' MPG and Publicis' Optimedia, both New York; and independents Harmelin Media in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., and JL Media in Union, N.J.
Instead of pursuing viewers outside its demo, WWE will troll familiar waters for current, former and would-be fans. Kanter's first task was to find out where onetime Hulk Hogan fans spend their time and money. Among the results: videogames.
"We know from our research that there is a big crossover between videogamers and wrestling fans," said Levi, noting both lure men with "action, fantasy escapism and the ability to control that kind of an outcome."