“WrestleMania is akin to our Super Bowl,” said Stephanie McMahon, WWE’s chief brand officer.
That isn’t just WWE’s top brass repeating some company line: They have the brand sponsorship to prove it.
Lost Remote’s parent company Adweek is heading to WrestleMania 38 in Arlington, Texas, on April 2 and 3 for one reason: The event’s brand marketing. Much like the Super Bowl, WrestleMania gives both blue-chip and upstart brands a shot at a wide audience.
National Football League sponsor Mars Wrigley turned its Snickers brand into a Super Bowl fixture in recent years. But Snickers also has been the presenting sponsor for WrestleMania for the last seven years, sharing this year’s two-day event with Take-Two Interactive’s WWE 2K 2022. Instead of letting Snickers and 2K slug it out on some stadium signage or in roughly $12 million worth of between-match commercials, WWE pitted them against each other on social media and in Raw and Smackdown broadcasts.
Snickers and 2K have that forum largely because Super Bowl 56 broadcast partner NBC’s parent company, NBCUniversal. Last year, the WWE signed a five-year deal streaming deal with NBCUniversal’s Peacock platform that includes not only WrestleMania and other premium WWE events, but a vast archive of previous WrestleMania broadcasts and other footage.
As a result, brands want to carve out a bit of that archive for themselves. NFL partner and Super Bowl advertiser DraftKings, for example, has billboards up during WrestleMania and spots running throughout the event. DoorDash is also placing billboards throughout AT&T Stadium, while enlisting WWE superstars Bianca Belair, Drew McIntyre and Sheamus for commercials and promotions. Finally, Mike’s Hard Lemonade is launching its Harder Half Lemonade + Half Tea by hitching itself to WWE superstars Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs’ WrestleMania ring entrance.
Brands that don’t want to spring for screen time have plenty of other opportunities to attach their logos to WrestleMania weekend. WWE’s Superstore Axxess at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas runs from April 1-4 and lets WWE sponsors pitch themselves directly to fans. Mattel will restage moments from WWE history with action figure photography. C4 energy drink lets fans take hologram photos with Roman Reigns and Belair. Fiterman Sports offers fans autographs and photos with WWE superstars.
Cricket Wireless, meanwhile, is offering interactive games at Superstore Axxess and a fan zone at AT&T Stadium. It’s also hosting meet-and-greets with superstar and WrestleMania headliner Charlotte Flair at a Cricket Wireless store in Dallas. If this was the Super Bowl, that would be akin to having Matt Stafford interact with fans at one of NFL wireless partner Verizon’s retail locations just before leading the Los Angeles Rams to a title.
“You would never see a Super Bowl athlete right before the big game,” Lilien said. “That’s the access that we have: When partners work with us, we can provide all of that access as part of the deal.”