'WrestleMania' Pay-Per-View Promotion Hits The N.Y. Streets

The WWE is taking promotion of its April 7 WrestleMania 29 pay-per-view event to the streets of New York.

The grappling group hopes the outdoor promotional effort, coupled with a major marketing push on social media and the draw of the biggest media market, will help the event pin down more PPV buys than last year’s successful outing, which drew more than 1.2 million buys globally.

The event will take place in East Rutherford, N.J.’s MetLife Stadium, and the centerpiece is a rematch between WWE superstars The Rock and John Cena.

“The fact that we’re back home in New York/New Jersey is great (the event will take place in New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium),” said Michelle Wilson, WWE chief marketing officer. “It’s the biggest city in the world and we think it’s the greatest stage of all … the fact that it’s the backdrop of WrestleMania makes it an even more global spectacle.”

For the first time the WWE is making the WrestleMania PPV feed available on the XBOX video game console and Samsung Smart TV’s, with the potential of adding more alternative distribution platforms before the live event, according to Wilson. She added the additional outlets will not siphon PPV buys from traditional MSO, satellite and telco distributors.

 “The reach in terms of the availability of where someone can buy the WrestleMania PPV event is bigger than it’s ever been before,” she said.

WWE will also make the event available to all platforms for a suggested retail price of $59.95 – an increase of $5 from last year’s event. It’s the first price increase in five years, and Wilson said the price is on par with most major PPV boxing matches.

Despite the price increase, Wilson added the company hopes WrestleMania 29 will smackdown the more than 1.2 million global PPV buys from last year’s event.   

“This is our biggest PPV event, and when you look at other marquee events that are what price point they’re at,” she said. “I think we’ll be fine … we believe the value is there in the attraction that we’ve built for WrestleMania. We’ve figured out year after year how to tell compelling stories that keep our fans engaged, and this year is no exception.”

In an effort to get the word out on the event, the WWE has partnered with government officials in New York and New Jersey to showcase WrestleMania advertisements and banners on 275 street poles, as well placards on Metro North train cars and in the international terminals of the three major New York/New Jersey airports leading up to the event. In addition the WWE this week will run 15-second spots 20 hours a day on HD video billboards in New York City’s Times Square. 

“All of that branding has been an amazing contribution by the local (city) organizing committee to make sure that there’s awareness out there about WrestleMania in the city,” she said. 

Social Media Outreach

Along with engaging its fanbase through promotional messages on such digital media sites as Youtube, Xbox and Amazon, the company will tap celebrities such as Donald Trump, Jimmy Fallon, Maria Menounos, and Coldplay's Chris Martin participating in pre-WrestleMania promotional events to tweet their experiences.

“We expect some 50 million to 60 million Twitter followers to be reached through celebrities talking about WrestleMania throughout the week,” she said. “We’re really leveraging those celebrity social media platforms to talk about WWE and our WrestleMania event, which will reach many more viewers than just a traditional print ad.”

The WWE’s own digital media footprint is has expanded since Wrestlemania 28: the WWE currently has more than 145 million social media followers, which is up dramatically from last year, according to Wilson. The network is also pushing WrestleMania  on its WWE’s app which launched last year, as well as a new app which launched last week built around WWE superstar The Rock.

The WWE is also working with distributors to promote WrestleMania through their respective social media outlets. DirecTv will create a blog revolving around WrestleMania that will reside on the satellite service’s website, while Time Warner Cable will feature WrestleMania promotional content on its Facebook page. 

In addition, the WWE will air a one-hour live WrestleMania pre-show that will run on youtube as well as Yahoo and AOL, Wilson said.  

“Our social media footprint will be much, much bigger than it was even last year,” Wilson said.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.