When people give presentations on ‘super brands’, I bet 99% of them will use these as examples: C_K_ and NI_E.
Whilst I agree with the above, there is a brand out there that never gets the recognition it deserves in our industry – the WWE. If you have no idea what that stands for, then I’m stone cold stunned. Essentially,. wrestling is two men in tight pants play fighting, however through the power of storytelling it has become a multi-million dollar business.
Before I digress, let’s debunk some of the myths surrounding wrestling and get into some of the WWE’s pedigree. Some facts: according to Nielsen 76% of the WWE’s audience is over 21 years old, 36% of the TV viewers are females, and the WWE grants more ‘wishes’ for sick kids than any other sporting organisation in the world.
The WWE is in the entertainment business and they have created the best content out there – the superstar wrestlers themselves.
Take John Cena for example, who has 14 million Facebook fans, more than LeBron James, Madonna or Kim Kardashian. These superstar wrestlers are tangible, real-life action heroes that fans love to engage with. It’s not like Batman and Spiderman can walk into room, shake people’s hands and have their own social media identities #impossible.
The entire strategy of the WWE is based on content creation and dissemination: Create compelling brands/content and then leverage these through multiple platforms.
No sweat right, any brand can do that? It’s the numbers that really show the the success of this organisation– in 2012 the WWE made $484m. When it comes to social media, the WWE has over 23 million fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter.
While I could write an entire paper on the organisation, I believe there are three core competencies they do so well that we can all learn from:
Content is king and owning your own content is key: For brands to capitalise on the digital revolution they must become ‘content-rich’ and then leverage this through multiple platforms. Beyond TV, the WWE also has WWE Films based in LA using the superstars. The WWE also has the added luxury of owning ALL the rights and IP of their content. Every word that a wrestler speaks, every move that he makes is copyrighted. Even if a wrestler leaves the WWE, he can’t use it elsewhere.
Know your core offering and listen to your fans: One of the key points of WWE is that they sell entertainment. Wrestling just happens to be one part of it. The WWE knows that its fans are at the centre of what it does. When storylines aren’t working or when the crowd begins favouring certain superstars, the WWE will change on the fly in order to make their fans happy. This might mean throwing out the script and copy that has been worked on for months but at the end of the day they know that without the fans they would be nothing.
Find alternate revenue streams without cannibalising your core offering: Without referencing the bleeding obvious for the WWE (licencing and merchandise), it also monetises the entrance music of each wrestler. In keeping current with the music industry’s expansion towards digital music, WWE continues to release every WWE Superstar theme song with partners at iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and others.
The new horizon for brands like the WWE is how to stay connected with their global network of fans and deliver new products and content 24/7. In the words of Vince McMahon, chairman of the WWE: “We want to make the WWE like the great city of New York, the brand that never sleeps.”