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Volume 21 No. 35
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Don’t be hangry: Snickers satisfies with WWE deal

When WrestleMania 34 comes to Mercedes-Benz Superdome on April 8, it will do so with Snickers on board as the pay-per-view event’s presenting partner for a third straight year.


The Mars brand’s renewal provides another highlight for WWE’s sponsorship sales, with global sponsor revenue now up 30 percent year-over-year.


John Brody, WWE executive vice president of global sales and head of international, said sponsors have been drawn to the range of inventory and activation opportunities the company can provide. WWE has direct control over its social and digital platforms, and its events, produces its own telecasts, and owns WWE Network. Sponsors get access to all of those assets, plus the company’s stable of performers.


For Snickers, these capabilities allow for custom creative, with WWE producing ads within Snickers’ broader “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign generated by BBDO. The spots, about six of which will be produced this year, feature prominent WWE talent. Starcom is the media buying agency for the Snickers/WWE relationship.


Michael Italia, Snickers senior brand manager, said the ads fit with the candy brand’s goal to activate in “big, bold, iconic” ways, and to access younger consumers, specifically the 13-35 age demographic.


It also has meant tying the Snickers brand to record-setting events in the last two WrestleManias: The 2016 iteration at AT&T Stadium set a WrestleMania attendance record at 101,000-plus, and the 2017 version became the Citrus Bowl’s single highest-grossing event at $14.5 million. Terms of the Snickers renewal were not disclosed.


Brody notes Snickers saw a “meaningful lift in same-store sales during the WrestleMania time period,” and garnered nearly 3 billion impressions across various WWE platforms last year. New activation around this year’s PPV event will include a sponsored Instagram story and integration with a four-day fan fest in New Orleans, along with more “You’re Not You” spots running across TV, digital and social.


KFC is another familiar WWE partner and its humorous Colonel Sanders campaign has been incorporated into WWE content. Royal Rumble included the Colonel Rumble, in which Ric Flair was crowned the new WWE KFC Colonel.


Steve Kelly, KFC U.S. director of media and digital, said part of the brand’s “marketing strategy is to show up in unexpected places in an authentic way.” The most recent iteration of the “WWE 2K18” video game even features Colonel Sanders as a playable character. Wieden+Kennedy handles KFC’s creative while Spark Foundry handles its media buying.


With the uptick in sponsorship revenue and integration has come the need for more members on the sponsorship sales team. John Stamatis recently came on board as senior vice president, global sales and marketing strategy, after working at the NBA, PepsiCo and most recently consumer electronics brand Harman International. Dave Pattillo joins as senior vice president, global sales, after working the past four years at Twitter. Pattillo had a long tenure at the NFL and worked there under Brody, who joined WWE in 2015.


Preston Bounds writes for sister publication SportsBusiness Daily.