Stephanie McMahon tells EAMC attendees about WWE's marketing plans. (VT Photo)
REPORTING FROM NEW ORLEANS — The tight bond between family shows and arena marketing staff was on display this year at the Event & Arena Marketing Conference, June 11-14.
Feld Entertainment used the forum to debut its ambitious marketing plan for Marvel Universe Live, while S2BN offered its first public mea culpa for the last-minute cancellation of Jesus Christ Superstar Arena Spectacular. Nitro Circus Live sent in its new team to announce the opening of its North America offices (Venice Beach and San Clemente in Southern California) and Cirque du Soleil and VEE Corp. all sent representatives to discuss upcoming tour dates.
But nowhere was the presence of family show producers more pronounced than the Thursday keynote presentation by Stephanie McMahon, superstar and Chief Branding Officer for World Wrestling Entertainment.
“Through our digital initiatives, our social media assets and through our live entertainment platform, we are able to engage with the fan on a 24/7 basis,” she said, highlighting her company’s newest endeavor — WWE Network. Like Netflix or Hulu, the network is available to anyone with an internet connection for $9.99 per month.
“WWE Network will include groundbreaking original programming, reality shows, documentaries, classic matches and more than 1,500 hours of video on demand,” she said. WWE Network is the first 24/7 network delivered directly to fans through over-the-top digital distribution on desktops and laptops via WWE.com
“WWE Network will also offer fans a revolutionary second-screen experience for all original programming and live events via the WWE App, similar to the interactive fan experience currently available for flagship TV programs Raw and SmackDown,” she said.
Cara Vanderhook, center, AEG, joins the EAMC Hall of Fame with congratulations from Vanessa Kromer, left, Nederlander, and Cassie Zebisch, AEG. (VT Photo)
EAMC President Cara Vanderhook said this year’s conference was attended by 375 people, many of whom were on hand to see Vanderhook inducted into the 2014 EAMC Hall of Fame. Suzanne Richardson from AEG Live took home the prestigious GiGi award and was introduced by longtime friend Jim Delaney from Activate Sports.
Vanderhook said the uptick in participation from family show producers comes at a time when all touring properties are looking for more assistance from buildings and individual markets.
“They’re not only looking for media contacts – they want as many assets as you have,” she said. That includes Facebook and Twitter posts, Instagram photos, in-arena advertising, email lists and other digital assets.
“Everyone wants more to sweeten the pot – for us it’s worth it if the show comes to us versus going to someone else.”
For Feld Entertainment, EAMC was a chance to showcase the marketing strategy for Marvel Universe Live, which kicks off its three-year tour on July 10 at the Tampa Times Forum.
Holly Skrenes, Feld’s director of Touring and Development, debuted the show’s new Electrolink — “a wrist-mounted device that has a light-up feature the user can control, but will also be brought into the Marvel lore,” she said. “Audience members will be able to use this Electrolink several times throughout the show.”
The show’s storyline has character Tony Stark (the alter ego of Iron Man) and Peter Parker (Spiderman) invent the device and use it to give the superheroes extra power.
“We think this is going to be a really cool engagement for the kids with all of the lights blinking in the audience,” she said.
Feld's Roderick Jeter talks about Marvel Universe Live. (VT Photo)
Tapping into the Marvel fanbase has huge potential, explained Roderick Jeter, senior director of Event Marketing and Sales for Feld. The Marvel.com site gets 4.5 million unique visitors per month and 500,000 newsletter subscribers. Marvel’s social media assets reach nearly 50 million people.
“First and foremost, the goal will be to tap into as many Marvel marketing channels as we can,” he said. “We want to integrate and get the word out that Marvel Universe Live is coming.”
In terms of building awareness on a national platform, Jeter said it’s the first time the show has been marketed through a national TV campaign to kick-off the presale, coinciding with a national digital campaign.
Next year’s Event & Arena Marketing Conference will be held in Los Angeles — a host hotel and conference dates are expected to be announced soon.
Interviewed for this article: Stephanie McMahon, (203) 524-9354; Cara Vanderhook, (213) 742-7273; Holly Skrenes, (813) 623-6773; Roderick Jeter (813) 623-6773