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Smart Promo: Doritos Gets into WWE’s ‘SummerSlam’ Ring

Chip deal gives WWE another high-profile advertiser as it grows its brand with families, young men

Changing up its programming and making sure its stars are everywhere has helped land WWE one of its biggest advertisers: Doritos.

The Frito-Lay chip brand, owned by PepsiCo, will serve as the presenting sponsor of “SummerSlam,” WWE’s most popular PPV after “WrestleMania.” Event takes place Aug. 18 from Los Angeles’ Staples Center. WWE hosts its “Money in the Bank” PPV today.

Financial terms of the marketing deal were not revealed, but Doritos will use “SummerSlam” to promote its Doritos Jacked line of chips on air and online.

As part of that effort, Doritos will give away “SummerSlam” viewing parties, hosted by WWE Legends Sgt. Slaughter and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, through a national promotion at Dollar General stores. That promotion runs through July 21.

The companies will also conduct a fan correspondent search (in Brooklyn, N.Y., Austin, Texas, Laredo, Texas, Green Bay, Wis. and Sacramento, Calif.) to interview wrestlers on the WWE app, at five “Monday Night Raw” shows leading up to “SummerSlam.” App has been downloaded more than 6.5 million times.

Doritos’ Ram Krishnan, VP of marketing for Frito-Lay said the deal was a way to connect its fans with those of WWE, and promised “one more surprise” this summer that will push its “bold” marketing “to a whole new level.”

Given the make up of the millions of young men that tune into WWE’s TV shows each week and its PPVs, it’s surprising that Frito-Lay owned Doritos hasn’t targeted the company’s captive fanbase before.

WWE’s audience is a perfect fit for the kind of consumer Doritos targets with its marketing.

Around 21% of WWE’s TV audience is under 18 years old, while 24% of its viewers are 18-34 years old, the sweetspot for most marketers. WWE also attracts that demo across its live events, PPV, online, social media, film, video game and publishing platforms, along with its consumer products.

But WWE has only recently been able to lure some of the biggest spenders in the advertising world.

In June, Post Cereals expanded an existing relationship with WWE to feature John Cena in two new TV commercials, a photo app and on-pack promos for Fruity Pebbles. The wrestler had already appeared on packages of Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles, replacing Fred Flintstone (ironically, Cena will co-star with the cartoon character in a new animated “Flintstones” movie WWE is producing with Warner Bros.)

SEE ALSO: Yabba Dabba WWE! Cena, McMahon Set For Flintstones Movie

WWE has gone after Doritos for years, but the right opportunity never came together for the two companies to work together the right way.

A partnership only ended up coming together around the South by Southwest festival, in March, where Cena spoke to a crowded house during a WWE panel, and Doritos built a massive 62-foot interactive vending machine and music stage to promote its chips. Doritos execs were impressed with the audience WWE was able to attract in Austin, along with their approach to social media and their embrace of other online platforms, and a deal soon followed.

“WWE has the most passionate fans,” said Michael Pine, global head of sales and partnership marketing, who joined WWE in April from  IMG, where he was VP of national sales for the company’s college division. Pine used that hardcore fanbase to broker the Doritos deal. “We’re thrilled to reward our fans with bold, once-in-a-lifetime experiences that only the Doritos Jacked brand and WWE could offer.”

The “Attitude Era” may have launched the careers of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson during the 1990s, but WWE’s programming was considered too edgy for advertisers.

Five years ago, the wrestling conglom embraced a PG rating, and marketers have sparked to WWE’s year-round TV programming and events schedule, its use of social media, its websites and magazines to promote partners ever since, with family conscious advertisers like General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Disney, DreamWorks, Paramount, Kmart, Subway, Taco Bell, Colgate, Schick and Mattel signing on. Warner Bros. and Legendary recently promoted “Pacific Rim” during WWE’s shows.

SEE ALSO: WWE’s Promo Mania

The PG push has also opened the door to more kids programming, including “Saturday Morning Slam,” a co-production with Saban for the CW, and an animated Scooby-Doo movie set at WrestleMania, which has also helped attract advertisers.

“We’ve had a tall task bringing corporate America back into the fold,” WWE’s chief marketing officer Michelle Wilson told Variety before “WrestleMania 29,” in April. The PG push “has given companies permission to talk to us again.”

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