WWE focuses on online outreach to promote Royal Rumble

STAMFORD, CT: World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has launched an interactive game that targets teens and promotes its Royal Rumble pay-per-view event, as part of its strategy to expand into the digital sphere.

STAMFORD, CT: World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has launched an interactive game that targets teens and promotes its Royal Rumble pay-per-view event, as part of its strategy to expand into the digital sphere.

"Habbo Royal Rumble" is an online version of the popular WWE event that uses the teen social networking site Habbo as a platform to reach its core audience. Habbo's 1.6 million users are assigned virtual avatars of WWE superstars, and then can vote for the top 30 they believe will be the winners. Users with at least one correct prediction qualify to win a trip to another event WrestleMania. Millions of Us worked with WWE on the campaign.

"If [participants] get excited about the Royal Rumble in the virtual world," said Gary Davis, VP of corporate communications at WWE, “they'll want to watch it in the real world and buy the pay-per-view [event]." Additionally, the PR team hopes the campaign bolsters interest in other WWE programming and products, he added.

The campaign is mostly relying on word-of-mouth and viral endorsements from its participants to promote the effort. Additionally, the campaign, which launched last week, is being publicized on Habbo through banner ads and homepage placements. The Royal Rumble pay-per-view event is scheduled to air on January 27.

"We didn't really worry about trying to connect with traditional publications to get the word out because we are focusing on an audience that's online," said Tom Boland, director of interactive marketing at WWE, adding that blogs like "Virtual World News" and "Worlds in Motion," and online communities are the primary methods for outreach.

Though the WWE's core market is teenage boys, female teens are becoming an increasingly "significant" portion of its viewership, he added.

The campaign is part of a larger strategy at WWE to target the new media space. Last year, the company promoted its Summer Slam pay-per-view event through a promotion with Gaia, a virtual world.

"In the last few months we've been very focused in trying to broaden our digital footprint outside of WWE.com," Davis said. "So we've been trying to find different ways we can bring brand into the online spectrum."

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