WWE pushes WrestleMania through publicity blitz, viral ads

STAMFORD, CT: World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is undertaking a multi-million dollar marketing effort to hype up its annual showcase, WrestleMania.

STAMFORD, CT: World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is undertaking a multi-million dollar marketing effort to hype up its annual showcase, WrestleMania.

The 21st edition of WrestleMania will take place at the Staples Center on April 3. The marketing campaign for the event has a budget of $5 million to bolster awareness with its core fanbase, as well as lapsed fans and casual viewers.

The marketing efforts include a promotional tour, media outreach, and viral ads that feature wrestlers parodying famous movies.

The parody trailers include takes on films such as When Harry Met Sally, A Few Good Men, Pulp Fiction, and Forrest Gump.

Lawi said that television shows have enjoyed using the trailers as substations for the traditional b-roll of wrestling footage that they normally use.

"We've been booking shows two months in advance, because of the demand," Lawi said, including Dennis Miller on CNBC, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. "We had to determine which talent would go where, so we didn't upset the TV shows."

The Hollywood theme follows last year's announcement that the company is getting into the movie business, rolling out two films in 2006 under its WWE Films imprint.

"You won't be able to escape WrestleMania [in the ensuing weeks]," said Neil Lawi, VP of publicity. "Everything we do all year relates to this event."

With a price tag of $50 to watch the event on Pay Per View, the biggest challenge is creating that extra enthusiasm to get the casual fan to dig into his or her wallet, said Gary Davis, VP of corporate communications.

WWE is working with agencies BWR and Dan Klores on entertainment, and Cataldi PR on trade and business press.

Last year marked the 20th anniversary of the event, which was held at New York's Madison Square Garden. The show featured many former wrestlers that drew in nostalgic fans.

"We tend to like to switch coasts after events," Davis said. When it confirmed the Staples center, the company decided to brand the event: "WrestleMania Goes Hollywood."

"We have hundreds of different initiatives occurring at the same time," Davis said. "We think about tying WrestleMania into everything we do."

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