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Volume 23 No. 18
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Sponsors step into the ring for WWE SummerSlam

Cricket Wireless and KFC are back as co-presenting sponsors of WWE’s SummerSlam, which gets underway Sunday at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

DiGiorno and 2K also return as sponsors, while esports property Rocket League is a new addition. SummerSlam, the second-largest event staged by WWE, behind WrestleMania, will stream on WWE Network.

John Brody, WWE executive vice president of global sales and head of international, said partners are attracted by the strength of WWE’s many global platforms, including WWE Network and the company’s following across social media.

“[Partners] can activate across all those different platforms,” said Brody, describing it as part of WWE’s “one-stop shopping approach.”

WWE performer Dolph Ziggler will star in a commercial for Cricket that premieres during SummerSlam and will air on national TV following the event. KFC, meanwhile, will roll out a stunt similar to the one it presented last year, as several WWE performers will appear in a part-live/part-taped stunt playing off the company’s KFC Colonel campaign.

Cricket, as part of its co-title sponsorship, will get inclusion in SummerSlam marketing materials, arena signage and inclusion during the broadcast. In addition to his commercial for the company, Ziggler will appear at a Cricket retail store in New York City in the days leading up to SummerSlam, and the appearance will be livestreamed on Facebook.

On Saturday, Cricket will host an anti-bullying summit at Barclays with 25 students from Junior Achievement of New York. Cricket also will have a WWE-themed virtual reality experience at Barclays Center for fans.

“The most beneficial aspect of the relationship is how the WWE has partnered with us to expose the brand in a different way,” said Tiffany Baehman, Cricket Wireless vice president and chief marketing officer. “When you look at the digital aspect and the social component, their reach to fans has been beneficial to introduce our brand in a new way.”

Meanwhile, in the time leading up to Sunday’s event, Rocket League will host a tournament that will see WWE performers take on one another. Rocket League will also serve as presenting sponsor of NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn and will air a spot in the NXT broadcast on WWE Network.

DiGiorno will launch a new product — Crispy Pan Pizza — at SummerSlam across WWE’s social platforms. DiGiorno will sponsor a WWE Instagram story, and will feature performer AJ Styles promoting the new offering on WWE’s YouTube channel.

Meanwhile, 2K will debut “WWE2K18” on Friday in Manhattan, with several WWE performers in attendance.
So far this year, WWE has generated $403 million in revenue, a 9 percent increase from last year. It has seen a 25 percent increase in partnership revenue this year, too, Brody said.

“We’re certainly on the trajectory that we had been hoping and planning for, and this year we have seen an uptick in blue-chip partner activation and spending with WWE,” Brody said.

John Bauernfeind writes for sister publication SportsBusiness Daily.