VP Global Digital & Integrated Sponsorship Sales
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)
8:45 AM: The NYC WWE office houses the music department responsible for licensing music for WWE shows and events, as well as the sales and marketing teams. The WWE has offices all over the world like Los Angeles, London, Dubai, Singapore and others.
In terms of Rob’s team, the stage of the deal determines who’s on his team. He has his pre-sale team, which help Rob prospect, research, solicit and work on ideas and concepts for Request for Proposals (RFPs)—an outlined document that explains exactly what the brand is trying to accomplish, what their targets are, what their flight dates or ad campaign schedule would be, etc. Once the pre-sale part of the deal is complete and the campaign runs, Rob works with a separate team that activates the campaign and collects data on the success to report back to the brand.
Back to the day, Rob’s desk is decorated with mementos from previous and current partnerships with brands, such as WWE branded Snicker symptom bars, Post Honeycomb Cereal with WWE Superstar Big Show on the box, Coke Orange Vanilla, Topps WWE superstar pack of cards, 5-Hour Energy bottles, Geico Gecko bobblehead, G Fuel Energy Drink WWE Legend Shaker cups and John Cena Capri Sun on pack drink.
On the walls, there is a whiteboard that lists accounts of interest and closed advertising deals to date and on the other wall includes a photo of Wrestlemania 33 which took place at AT&T Stadium on April 3rd, 2016 and set a record of 101,763 fans. Hanging from the flat-screen television is a character from the video game Final Fantasy.
Rob opened Microsoft Outlook and replied to roughly ten emails that needed his attention. However, that doesn't mean there were only 10 unread emails in his inbox. Rob is copied on multiple emails on a "just so you know" type of basis. Event planning logistics, company announcements, case studies' logistics and findings are topics of those types of emails.
Rob's sent folder is mostly reserved for brand communications and negotiations. A few examples Rob gave of emails he would need to reply to could concern, "a proposal that was sent out, a rates negotiation, a question about whether a [WWE] Superstar could be utilized in a certain element for a brand," things like that.
Rob prepared for a 10:15 AM presentation around the launch of Coke Energy, a brand new energy drink initiative for Coca-Cola that will occur in early 2020. In preparation, Rob read through a PowerPoint presentation and made notes to discuss while at the meeting. Rob and his team are one of seven brands invited to present their ideas to win the launch dollars around the January Energy drink campaign.
"Launch dollars" is an industry term used to explain the prestige and exclusivity of the partnership. If won, it means the company will be the first to advertise with the product as soon as it hits the market also for the first time.
This isn't WWE's first rodeo with Coca-Cola and their new products' launch dollars—their launch of the Orange Vanilla flavor was an example of a time where Coca-Cola was requesting a proposal to advertise their new flavor exclusively.
Rob and his team for the Orange Vanilla proposal pitched the idea, the perfect pairings. Rob explained their past brainstorming session saying,
"because Orange and Vanilla is a great pairing for you to drink, we went back to the well for us and thought... 'what are the great matchups or tag-team pairings that we've had in the past and how is that relevant?'"
After hashing out the objectives and synergies from the soda to WWE content, Coke went with WWE's idea to advertise the new flavor and sweepstakes were made—that have now expired of course. YouTube content was produced and WWE fans were exposed to entertainment that promotes the message of the advertiser while giving the audience the content they desire.
This is exactly the type of experience desired this time around for the launch of Coke Energy.
Rob took a 10-minute cab ride to Coca-Cola's media agency of record. After he checked into the building, he began setting up a laptop to present, with his marketing team, why the World Wrestling Entertainment audience made sense for the Coke Energy beverage launch in January of 2020.
Accompanying Rob to this meeting is the Marketing Manager who works closely with him to come up with the concepts for the brand pitches.
When asked if he gets nervous for presentations like these, Rob said he feels the opposite. "I get excited," Rob said especially when he knows what's at play and what's at stake.
He continued, "I have to step it up. I have to be articulate. I have to understand who's in the room and I have to pitch our messaging in a way that everybody in that room understands it and is captivated."
"Getting away from the phone and the computer and actually being in front of somebody is what really makes advertising sales exciting!"
A tip Rob has to rock presentations like these is to, "think of the questions that are going to come about throughout your presentation before actually walking into the presentation." That's why his prep before is so important. While he's re-reading and reviewing the presentation before the meeting, he said he thinks to himself, "what could this person ask as a question?" What are areas of the pitch that's convoluted with in-depth information that needs extra explaining? Dig deep in articulating the answers to those questions in a way a layperson would understand and watch the nerves slowly fade away as you dive into the presentation.
Aspects brands like Coca-Cola keep in mind when looking for partnerships like this are:
- Reach (how many people could the advertisement be exposed to?)
- Demographics synergy (does the WWE's demo match the demo the brand is trying to reach?).
Rob and his team, along with the specifics of their creative pitch, leverage their data to try and convince the brand to land their business. Rob said the WWE's demo is interesting because it not only includes the consumer (children and teenagers), but the purchaser (parents), so that's a unique selling point in their arsenal.
The presentation took 30 minutes and a Q&A occurs from the media agency team that lasted roughly 15 minutes. Rob shared the questions asked were related to the specifics of a few scenarios of ideas mentioned in the presentation. In those scenarios, they talked about utilizing certain WWE wrestlers and one of the questions that came up was which of the wrestlers mentioned would be best to reach a certain demographic compared to others. A discussion ensued to try to nail down the right person.
Rob left the agency with his team to head back to the WWE office. While they didn't find out the decision on who won the launch dollars on that day, Rob shared by the time the interview for the article took place, his team won the business!
Rob arrived back at his office and jumped on a client call with the head of marketing for Mars Chocolate. The purpose of this call was to discuss renewing their title sponsorship leading up to and surrounding Wrestlemania 36 for the fourth year in a row. Wrestlemania 36 will take place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on April 5th, 2020.
The venues of Wrestlemania have changed throughout the four years Mars Chocolate has sponsored Wrestlemania, which brings interesting logistical challenges, Rob said, adding, "what can we do new and different," this time around? Rob and his team are ensuring their clients, not just Mars Chocolate, that the activation for each partnership will be new-to-market and never done before.
The call lasted 30 minutes and previewed some new ideas to bring to life the Snickers brand and their tag line, "who are you when you're hungry?"
Wrestlemania, for those who don't know, is, as Rob described it, "the SuperBowl for WWE, it's where all the storylines culminate." It's a 4-5 day event—one the biggest events for WWE out of all 500+ events they schedule for the year—which also means, as mentioned, it's a big opportunity for brands to achieve high visibility and reach among potential consumers. To put the Wrestlemania fanfare into perspective, hundreds of thousands of fans from all 50 states and 68 countries attended last year's Wrestlemania 35. Again, big opportunities available for sponsorships and advertising.
Rob met with the head of marketing for Rovio Entertainment—a Finnish video game company best known for the Angry Birds franchise—for lunch at Haru Sushi in Times Square. The purpose of the lunch was to discuss the activities coming up in the days ahead which include an activation within Times Square to count down to the official 10th anniversary of Angry Birds in concert with its #BringTheAnger campaign. This campaign aimed to show how anger can be converted into positive action—who doesn't like to let it out once in a while?!
Rob said, "this is more of a 'thank you' type lunch where we've done all the hard work and now we're seeing it all come to life." This is also an opportunity to exchange more detail descriptions of what each respective company does to pitch a future partnership and to get to know each other personally. The more informed each leader of different companies are about their partners personally and professionally, the better they can serve each other in the future, Rob said.
After lunch, Rob walked over with the head of marketing for Rovio Entertainment to their Times Square activation. Rovio unveiled the Angry Birds Venting Machine. The idea behind this Venting Machine was to accept angry actions, like bashes, shouts or shakes, as forms of "payment" for special prizes.
Both parties thought to get the most use out of this furious machine, Rovio debuted the Venting Machine in one of the world’s most infamously agitating destinations: New York City’s Times Square.
To drive larger crowds, WWE's contribution to Rovio's Venting Machine idea was to provide WWE Talent, The Big Show (7'0 441 pounds) to drive awareness for the campaign through an appearance in Times Square to help fans shake the "venting machine"!
The Big Show showed up at roughly 2:45 PM which resulted in a long line of fans waiting anxiously to see the larger than life WWE Superstar. A few Instagram reposts later, the client, Rob and the fans were very happy with the successful outcome!
Following the Times Square activation, Rob traveled back to the office. The first thing he did was make a call to the Rovio social media team to let them know WWE's The Big Show has initiated his post on his Instagram allowing Rovio to repost and drive more awareness to the big event.
Following his Rovio call, he prepared for a discussion at 4:45 PM with the Universal Studio's theatrical marketing team. Their team discussed with Rob the 2020 schedule for theatrical releases and brainstormed on which titles would make sense for the WWE audience.
A couple ways these movies studios and WWE can work together include inviting the stars of the movies to come to a WWE event and sit front-and-center, showing the trailer during commercial breaks/on the jumbotron, producing a mash-up promotional video with clips from the movie and WWE Superstars to air on the jumbotron, showcasing props from these movies for fans to take pictures with, among other ideas.
The objective for the studios to partner with WWE is to get tickets sold, Rob said, adding, "so it's my job to create awareness," using all of WWE's assets in their arsenal to promote these movies. Since the demographics for WWE fans span over generations and the studios want to target a specific age demographic, the promotional strategy will differ. For example, if they're working on promoting a movie geared towards a younger audience, Rob's team will focus on digital marketing vs. television marketing. These are the details that are hashed out on phone calls like this.
Ironically two of their major releases, Dolittle and Fast and Furious 9, will star WWE Superstar John Cena. "The inclusion of John Cena creates a nice synergy for a marketing partnership," Rob said.
Upon completing the call with Universal Studio's theatrical marketing team, Rob prepared an email to his internal WWE marketing team identifying the three best titles for us to prepare marketing ideas around. Materials attached could include any foundational information Rob got from initial calls, synopses of the movies, and/or RFP documents. He followed up his email brief with a meeting invite to discuss in person the next steps to aligning their marketing initiatives around the flight dates for the Universal titles.
Speaking generally about how meetings like this typically go, Rob's first step in thinking through these ideas is using his marketing background to brainstorm with the rest of his team. He likes to be involved in the creative process keeping in mind his sales expertise as well—what will be the best approach for the studio to get the best return on their investment?
After they've come up with the ideas, his team will flesh it out further and Rob will present the best ideas to the movie studios in person, similarly to the Coke presentation earlier in the day.
It was the end of the workday, so Rob caught a train back to Stamford, CT from Grand Central and arrived home at 7:45 PM. On the train ride, he could be answering emails, but only emails that require a quick response. For most emails, he prefers to use a laptop. If he's not answering emails, he'll check back in on the news that relevant to his industry, like finance and company developments, since he doesn't have time to during the day to do so. From there, he prepared dinner and answered urgent work emails mostly from West Coast brands.
Rob’s evening routine usually consists of relaxing by playing a few games of pool and pinball in his home game room before falling asleep by listening to an ’80s playlist on Spotify. What a day!