Marketing

Q&A With Eddie Hill: Broadening The WWE’s Brand

8/11/2010 10:30 AM Eastern

Newly named World Wrestling
Entertainment senior
vice president of marketing
Eddie Hill is charged with
marketing and promoting
the pro-wrestling outfit’s
numerous cable TV brands.
Multichannel News programming
editor R. Thomas
Umstead recently talked to
Hill about the company’s
marketing push for its television
content and its plans for
a potential national brand
campaign.

MCN: How do you perceive
the WWE brand and its
strength on television, both
from a cable and pay-per-view
perspective?

Eddie Hill: I’m very, very impressed
with the reach that
this brand has through its television
assets. Given that we
have shows on several days of
the week — Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday —
plus the pay-per-view events,
it’s very difficult not to find us.
We’re very excited about Oct.
1, when SmackDown, which
is currently on MyNetworkTV,
moves to Syfy. Our Raw franchise
will reach its 900th episode
(on Aug. 30). It’s a ratings
powerhouse, and to get to 900
episodes is quite a feat.

WWE's Eddie HallThe reach of this brand is
incredibly powerful because
we’re on several networks several
times a day, so it makes it
very hard to miss what we’re offering.

MCN: Is the WWE marketing
message different in 2010
than it was five years ago?

EH: I think where we are now
is quite different and has
been since July of 2008, when
we switched to more family
friendly programming, or ‘PG’
programming, as we say here.
Th at’s quite a departure from
five years ago, when we were in
what some refer to as the ‘Attitude
Era,’ and the content was,
while compelling to many,
certainly not family friendly
across a wide spectrum. But
now, with two years of our
programming being of a PG
nature, by far we’ve become
more palatable to various
sponsors.

Our audience composition
has changed quite a bit also —
we see when we go to our live
events that there are many families
with small children there.
It makes our job here easier,
because we’re actually selling
family entertainment instead
of entertainment for just young
males only.

MCN: Can you give me a sense
of what advertisers have come
in since you’ve gone to a more
family-friendly programming
product?

EH: I know we have a few
coming up. We have a lot of
new things connected to new
sponsors … We’ve always had
powerful ratings, but now that
the content is family friendly,
it has opened some doors from
an advertising standpoint.
[7-Eleven, Twix/Mars, the
National Guard, Topps and
Mattel have either started or
increased their marketing ties
with the WWE since its move
to more family-friendly programming,
according to company
officials.]

MCN: Despite the more family-
friendly approach to WWE
content, do you think the organization
has been able to erase
its image as a steroids-driven,
violence-tinged product?

EH: I think the PG push is getting
across — the fans are really
responding to it, so I think
our audience is well aware of
the content. If there is a challenge
at all, it’s to drive that
message stronger beyond our
WWE universe.

Our biggest challenge is to
get the message of our current
brand identity out there to create
some brand reappraisal in
the eyes of the folks who may
not live with our product every
week.

MCN: Are there any plans to
get that message out to the
masses, beyond what you’re
currently doing through your
on-air shows?

EH: We’ll see. We’ve been
talking about having some
broader-reaching communications
to push that message.
We haven’t solidified those
plans yet, but there is some
talk about communications
in trade publications and such
to help communicate exactly
what this brand stands for.

To your question of extending
the brand message, we are
going heavy into the motion
picture arena. We have two
movies premiering this year
that we’re excited about.

One is Legendary (Sept. 10),
which stars [WWE wrestler]
John Cena and Danny Glover,
and is a great, wholesome film
and very entertaining. We have
another one in October called
Knucklehead starring [WWE
wrestler] The Big Show, which
is a great kids’ comedy. We also
have four more movies coming
in 2011.

September