Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 20 No. 46
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

Lagardère Sports signs to sell international sponsorships for WWE

WWE has hired Lagardère Sports as its international sponsorship sales agency in a multiyear agreement.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. As is typical in these types of agreements, Lagardère Sports will receive a fee as well as a percentage of sales.

WWE hired Lagardère, a subsidiary of Paris-based Lagardère Group, to build its sponsorship revenue in Europe and Asia. In the last two years, WWE’s new U.S. deals have included Mars brands Snickers and Combos, Nestle brand DiGiorno, AT&T’s Cricket Wireless and KFC.

WWE posted record revenue of $729 million for 2016, up 11 percent from the prior year. Sponsorship revenue is not disclosed, but John Brody, WWE executive vice president of global sales and partnerships, said it has quadrupled since 2010. Brody joined WWE in 2015 after working at Wasserman and MLB.

The entertainment company, built on professional wrestling, hosts 500 live events a year, 60 of which are overseas. WWE programming is available in more than 650 million homes worldwide in 180 countries and in 20 languages.

But while international audiences make up 70 percent of its content consumption, international accounts for 30 percent of revenue, so WWE has targeted Europe and Asia for growth, Brody said.

“We need a partner who will help us activate this vision internationally,” Brody said. “Lagardère shares our philosophy.”

Lagardère Sports employs 1,600 people in 25 countries.

Andy Pierce, Lagardère Sports president and CEO for the Americas, said that announcing the relationship is the beginning of the second part of a plan. Lagardère was formally engaged in February and its global consulting group has been working since then on an assessment of WWE’s assets worldwide.

“What we are not trying to do is get a sponsor for the London show,” Pierce said. “What we are looking at is getting European sponsors for all of Europe. It could be a global sponsor. It could be European. It could be Asia-centric. But it certainly would be for more than one market.”

Last year Lagardère won the rights to sell sponsorships in Europe for the NHL and NHL Players’ Association’s World Cup of Hockey and to manage the NFL’s social media in Germany, and Pierce said those European deals may have factored into the WWE’s decision.

“It’s one thing to say this is what we want to do,” Pierce said. “It’s another thing to actually do it.”

Lagardère was chosen both for its international experience and for the interest from the leadership at the agency, Brody said.

“For me it started with the level of commitment at the most senior level,” Brody said, adding that he has known Pierce for years.