Stephanie McMahon toutes the Zombies Lumberjack Match

Aug 1, 2021 - by Marc Middleton

WWE received a significant amount of backlash for the Zombies Lumberjack Match at the recent WrestleMania Backlash pay-per-view, but WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon touted the promotion during Thursday’s WWE Q2 earnings call with investors.

As noted, WWE had wrestlers dress as zombies to serve as the Lumberjacks for Damian Priest’s win over The Miz at WrestleMania Backlash in May. This was a tie-in for Netflix’s “Army of the Dead” zombie heist movie, which starred former WWE Champion Batista. Batista even promoted the show on his Twitter account, and narrated the opening video package for the pay-per-view. WWE received a large amount of attention on social media for the zombies, but most of it was negative.

It was later reported that WWE received a 7-figure payday from Warner Bros. for the “Army of the Dead” sponsorship package. WWE President & Chief Revenue Officer Nick Khan reportedly spearheaded the deal, for more than $1 million, but there was no word on exactly how much the deal was worth.

McMahon spoke about new sponsorship deals during Thursday’s investors call. She noted that Batista’s “cool video mash-up” set the tone for the night, and how WWE brought a “full-on zombie invasion” to promote the movie, which was the presenting sponsor of the pay-per-view. She touted how zombies appeared in backstage segments and in the virtual ThunderDome crowd, and said the results spoke for themselves – WWE generation more than 500 million growth impressions that night, and saw 25 million content views across their digital and social platforms. She also touted how 3 of the 14 trending topics from that night were directly tied to the “Army of the Dead” integration.

“The cultural impact and disruption during and after WrestleMania Backlash played a significant role in the film’s quick ascent to becoming one of the top 10 most watched movies in Netflix history,” McMahon added.

Regarding WWE’s sales and sponsorships, McMahon noted that revenue increased 43% year-over-year.

“As I mentioned during our last call, brands are looking for unique ways to engage with their consumers that goes well beyond generating impressions. WWE is perfectly positioned to do just that with an ability to create customized content experiences across multiple lines of business, and utilize WWE Superstars that resonate with target audiences,” she said.

Khan also touted the success of WWE’s sponsorship business during the call. He said WWE is growing in this area, and they believe they will continue to grow there. Khan gave McMahon and her team credit for delivering more than 20 new and existing sponsors so far in 2021, many of them being blue-chip companies.

“Another area where we are growing and believe we will continue to grow is our sponsorship business,” he said. “Stephanie and our global sales and sponsorship team have delivered over 20 new and existing sponsors so far in 2021, with many of them blue chip companies, and executed on a number of innovative activations that really only can be done by WWE. We’re bullish on this segment and we’re confident brands looking for unique ways to reach consumers will see our record of success and seek us out.”

Later during the Q&A portion of the call, one investor asked when McMahon expects to start to see “real growth” when it comes to sponsorship, pointing to how sponsorship was slightly down in Q2 compared to the same period in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic. He also asked if sponsorship is expected to increase with the return to touring. McMahon said the return to live events “absolutely increases the excitement and energy” with fans, which increases the opportunity to engage, and that also brings a financial upside. She reiterated the 43% increase year-over-year, and pointed to how that was during the COVID-19 pandemic. She said they expect to see continued growth through the end of the year and moving forward now that they have returned to touring.

Stay tuned for more. Below are a few clips of the zombies at WrestleMania Backlash:

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