The inside story of Cricket Wireless' partnership with WWE

The campaign included public appearances from John Cena and other WWE stars.

Company: Cricket Wireless
Campaign: Cricket Wireless/WWE SummerSlam
Agency mix: FleishmanHillard (media outreach), Shareability (video production), Movement (live stream production), Max Borges Agency (talent relationship management, production)
Duration: July - September 2017
Budget: Between $500,000-$1 million

This summer, Cricket Wireless partnered with the WWE to create a campaign to engage consumers, as well as driving brand awareness and consideration.

Focused on WWE’s biggest event of the summer, SummerSlam, the campaign included public appearances from John Cena and other WWE stars, a social-focused video series, and a sweepstakes.

Strategy
Planning for the campaign began more than a year ago.

Cricket chose to partner with the WWE and focus efforts on its SummerSlam event, which took place in Brooklyn, New York, on August 20.

Through the campaign, the brand wanted to create content and experiences that would create an emotional connection to the brand, inform consumers about products and services, and differentiate the brand from competitors.

The brand wanted to create a series of live events and digital content to engage fans. Much of the success of the campaign would hinge on netting media coverage from relevant publications and broadcast outlets.

"The key was to leverage every possible story angle that spanned sponsorships, sports, lifestyle, and entertainment," said Dawn Benton, assistant VP of corporate communications at Cricket Wireless.

Campaign strategy and media outreach was led by Cricket’s in-house communications team, with outreach support by FleishmanHillard.

On social, the brand created a sweepstakes and tried to drive traffic to public appearances from WWE stars that would take place throughout the summer.

The brand also wanted to create a series of videos with wrestler John Cena that could help the brand connect to fans on social platforms. The hashtag #JohnCenaLovesTheInternet was developed to run alongside the campaign videos.

Tactics
In July, the brand began using social channels to get the word out about the partnership with WWE leading up to SummerSlam. The campaign featured a social sweepstakes, the winner of which received free tickets to SummerSlam.

On August 18, Cricket hosted a Facebook Live Q&A session with wrestler Dolph Ziggler. The stream was shot by agency Movement from a Brooklyn Cricket Wireless store and featured a background with a mini pool and Tiki torches to celebrate the end of summer.

On August 19, Cricket hosted a Cyberbullying Summit at Barclays Center in Brooklyn with Junior Achievement of New York, a nonprofit dedicated to providing students with work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy education. Cena was on hand to surprise the 25 Junior Achievement students and shared his own experience with being bullied as a child.

"The Cyberbullying Summit was something that was more than a year in the making, as we wanted to do something meaningful and impactful for kids," said Benton. "Through this event, we were able to talk directly to the kids about how to use wireless technology for good, understand the dangers of bullying online, and what they can do about it."

Beginning in mid-August, Cricket launched a series of videos on Facebook and YouTube featuring Cena. One of the videos, titled John Cena Reacts, featured Cena reacting to fan letters and then being surprised by the fans themselves. The video series was all shot by Shareability.

"We promoted the videos across Facebook and Instagram and amplified posts from the WWE and John Cena," explained Benton. 

In July and August, the brand also sponsored public appearances from WWE stars such as Charlotte Flair, Sheamus, A.J. Styles, Ziggler, and Sasha Banks. The appearances were announced on social channels and gave fans a chance to meet WWE personalities at brand locations across the country. Some of the cities visited were: Houston; Birmingham, Alabama; Washington, DC; Cleveland; Omaha, Nebraska; and Las Vegas.

Results
The John Cena Reacts video quickly became Cricket Wireless’ most shared video. The video has been viewed on Facebook more than 98 million times and has more than 1.3 million shares. On YouTube, the video reached peak trending status at number three and has over 4 million views.

The campaign generated 205 feature media placements, including coverage in Bleacher Report, ABC, SportsBusiness Daily, HuffPost, People, Today, Entertainment Tonight, and E!, as well as wrestling outlets such as WrestleZone and All Wrestling.

Collectively, the #JohnCenaLovesTheInternet videos garnered 130 million views, 7.5 million engagements, and 1.9 million shares across all social platforms.

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