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Are you ready to Rumble? Recently on the new Visionaries Series, we got a glimpse into the future of media with Todd Kaplan, Chief Marketing Officer of Pepsi, and Stephanie McMahon, Chief Brand Officer of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.

These visionaries not only flex about this year’s success of WWE’s WrestleMania and brand Pepsi’s Super Bowl Halftime Show, but they share how to navigate the ever-changing world of media and content marketing.

To survive the rapidly changing landscape, these marketing leaders know how to cultivate teams that are inspired, innovative and attuned to the customer experience. Read what they had to say and how it could influence your team, talent, and future.

Overview:

  • The Visionaries Take on Current Media and Content Trends
  • How Pepsi and WWE are Integrating the NFT Market, Shows, Partnerships, and More
  • The Success of PepsiCo’s Halftime Show vs. WWE’s WrestleMania
  • Navigating the Constantly Evolving Future of Media and Marketing
  • Leading Teams and Partners to Stay Innovative and Inspired

The Visionaries Take on Current Media and Content Trends

Todd Kaplan: This is the most exciting and most difficult time to be a marketer. The landscape is changing so fast between the fragmentation, streaming, mobile, and Web3, and at the same time, many brands have the same playbook for how to structure their creative agency. With the Pepsi brand, we are developing a new approach; we are trying to create more of the content ourselves, not just with ads; we want to connect with consumers on their terms.

Stephanie McMahon: I don’t know why we have to put ourselves into boxes, that’s not how today’s world works. Marketing is all about creating the best customer experience.

For WWE, we do more promotion than marketing because all of our marketing is content. We try to be as story-driven as we possibly can. People need a reason to buy. If your content relates to your audience emotionally and it fuels whatever need they have, that is when they will engage. Your audience isn’t going to engage with an ad with a pretty face on it, but they will engage because it has an emotional impact on them.

How Pepsi and WWE are Integrating the NFT Market, Shows, Partnerships, and More

Todd Kaplan: I did not know a thing about NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) a year ago; I learned by getting into the space, messing up 100 times, and figuring it out.

Today, we have done everything from creating proprietary content with MTV on a new show, “Becoming a Pop Star”, to NFT projects, with our Pepsi Mic Drop, and everything in between. The Pepsi Mic Drop was launched free for consumers so they can start to engage in new ways. The NFTs have already done over $10 million in secondary sales, from which consumers have received 100% of the proceeds. 

We also partnered with Billboard during the Billboard Music Awards and created the Pepsi Mic Drop Moment of the year award. There was a second screen experience so that viewers at home could mint in real-time, resulting in over 375,000 NFTs within a matter of hours; this shows how you can build community over time and create fun ways to push forward into new spaces. 

Stephanie McMahon: At WWE, we want to focus on what we do best, storytelling, so we decided to license the WWE Network to Peacock. We also have a partnership with Blockchain Creative Labs, owned by FOX, and we are launching our NFT marketplace. Testing and learning in the space have been our priority over the last year. Although there is still much to learn, there is no doubt that we need to be there, and at the same time, we have to keep our fans first.

The Success of PepsiCo’s Halftime Show vs. WWE’s WrestleMania

Stephanie McMahon: I have to shout this out as broadly and as widely as possible because WrestleMania, akin to Super Bowl, beat the Super Bowl in terms of social media views, engagements, and impressions!

These stats represent the power of what your consumer can bring; we cannot take credit for this. We credit our fans for speaking loudly, watching our content, and engaging with content worthy of their passion.

Todd Kaplan:  While it sounds like the WWE did bigger on social than the whole Super Bowl, we, at Pepsi, generated 72% of Share of Voice (SOV) during our 10th year running Halftime Show in 2022. This statistic is formed by tracking all of the tweets about brands and then gathering what percentage of tweets were about Pepsi. In all fun, it is not just about the numbers and the scale, but what you do with them and how you build experiences for the consumer first.

Success is not about landing your brand message in the consumer’s inbox or putting it in front of their eyes and ears. Success is about your consumer engaging with your brand and participating on their terms by weaving in your brand organically.

Navigating the Constantly Evolving Future of Media and Marketing

Stephanie McMahon shares her top advice for brands navigating the future of media.

  • Listen Constantly
    • You have to listen to your fans, consumers, kids, and peers. Listen to conversations they are having with each other, and don’t be afraid to have direct conversations about how to best reach them. Beyond that, utilize the many accessible listening tools.
  • Keep Your Finger on the Pulse of the Marketplace
    • Our philosophy has always been to be slightly ahead of the curve. It is crucial to think about maintaining direct communication with your audience and how to stay informed on new platforms and especially where the next generation is engaged.
  • Pay Attention and Pivot to Live Audience Feedback
    • There is nothing more valuable than live audience feedback. Every week we have a focus group with a minimum of 10,000 people who give us feedback. As a brand, you need to know what people like, what they don’t like, and most importantly, what they don’t care about.

Leading Teams and Partners to Stay Innovative and Inspired

Todd Kaplan: At Pepsi, we try to unleash the creativity within our existing team rather than outsourcing it. As it relates to agencies, we have been selective with who and how we partner. We don’t view our partners as transactional; we co-create together. Using this model, we align cultural and consumer truths alongside our brand and product truths, and then brainstorm how they intersect. This collaboration is when the best ideas occur.

And keep in mind that everyone is in a constant state of learning across all levels and functions of an organization. Just because there may not be immediate buy-in to big, new ideas, I have conditioned myself to think “no” is just a request for more information.

Stephanie McMahon: I like to remind myself and the team of the notion of Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote, “Do something you are afraid of every day.” When you are afraid of something, there is a reason. When you embrace your fear, confront it, and get on the other side of it, I think you will be proud of yourself. At the end of the day, we only live this life once. So what are you going to do with your time today to make a difference, fulfill yourself, and impact someone’s life?

The Visionaries Webinar Series, hosted by Nadine Dietz, includes live conversations featuring two new visionaries every Tuesday at 9:00 AM PST. 

Stephanie McMahon, CBO, WWE Bio: Stephanie started modeling WWE merchandise at eight years old and interned in the company in various roles, starting in high school. Later she became the PA for the television studio, worked in the sales group, and ultimately landed with the creative writing team. She ran the Digital Department, helped launch their app, ran Talent Relations, Brand Management, and the Live Events team, and ultimately became the Chief Brand Officer. Currently, she is responsible for creative services, producing artwork, photography, marketing, sales and sponsorship, gaming, entertainment relations, and community strategies.

Todd Kaplan, CMO, Pepsi Bio: With a background in sports marketing, Todd led global sports sponsorships for Visa with Olympic Games and the Rugby World Cup. At PepsiCo, Todd has developed marketing initiatives for Mountain Dew, Sports marketing and created new water brands like Bubly Sparkling Water and LIFEWTR. For the last three and a half years, he has led the Pepsi brand. He has a lot of fun with his team, working on everything from strategy and innovation to brand communications and the commercial side of the business.

 

Thanks to our partnership with The Wall Street Journal and our parent company, 24 Seven, for making this series a reality.

Marketers That Matter® is a community of top marketing executives coming together to pioneer the future of marketing, sharing real-time experiences, and solving current challenges.

Our parent company, 24 Seven, specializes in helping you find exceptional marketing and creative talent for your teams.