WWE

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Vince McMahon

Chairman

Kurt Schneider

Executive vice president, marketing

Kevin Dunn

Executive vice president/executive producer

Dan Levi

Vice president, marketing

John Gaburick

Director, on-air promotion

Once a mania, World Wrestling Entertainment didn't exactly slip. It just became less of a sensation. So, by the time of its 20th anniversary this year, WWE had to repackage itself, re-energize its old viewers, and find new ones. Executive Vice President of Marketing Kurt Schneider helped revitalize a flagging brand with relentless promotion.

Brought in last year, Schneider came on like gangbusters and in the nick of time to develop a marketing plan for the second-decade celebration of WrestleMania. It was a knockout. Besides generating more than $40 million in pay-per-view revenue and setting a WWE box-office record, the event had a domino impact in creating new revenue streams: licensing, ad sales, TV specials, home video, Internet and merchandise.

The timing of the 2004 WrestleMania XX was pitch perfect. It played to a sold-out Madison Square Garden filled with fans from 16 countries, 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Fans from more than 90 countries watched the event on pay-per-view.

WWE's campaign extended to integrating promotions at the national, regional, and local levels. "We wanted WrestleMania XX to be one of those events that everyone would talk about and wish they had seen live for themselves," Schneider says. "The goal was to use all available resources, from television to print to local guerilla marketing, to encourage fans—past, present, and future—that they had a chance to witness history."

WWE has never taken its integration philosophy to such extremes, assigning nine months for the anniversary event's marketing campaign versus a traditional six-week effort leading up to the annual event.

With the marketing effort unprecedented in scope, WWE earmarked $5 million for the promotion campaign involving a mix of traditional national media with local ads, street-level marketing, and a grassroots tour to promote WrestleMania XX, all tagged "WrestleMania XX: Where It All Begins… Again."

In major markets, the WrestleMania XX brand even got slapped on pizza boxes delivered to homes.

Ads ran in national print magazines from Sports Illustrated (including a special four-page package in Sports Illustrated's 40th Anniversary Swimsuit Issue) to Entertainment Weekly to Mad. The campaign included cable-TV buys on TBS, TNT, and Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, as well as online advertising on AOL.

At 38, Schneider has some track record. Having started his career in the late 1980s at two major advertising agencies, Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising and Chiat/Day, he headed up Cheerios and kid-cereal initiatives for the General Mills account and also worked for Walt Disney Co. and Fox Sports Net.

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