Traditionally billed as “The Biggest Party of the Summer,” this year’s SummerSlam pay-per-view will actually be WWE’s “Biggest Party of the Year” with more than 40,000 expected in attendance on Saturday, August 21, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
WWE, which returned to live event touring with SmackDown on July 16, hosted a limited-capacity WrestleMania 37 over two nights on April 10-11 from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
The anticipation of WWE’s first SummerSlam held at an NFL stadium and the largest SummerSlam crowd in nearly 30 years—SummerSlam 1992 welcomed 80,355 fans at Wembley Stadium in London—has brand partners equally as excited to get in on the fun.
“It’s been incredible. We’ve seen so much demand,” said Claudine Lilien, WWE senior vice-president of global sales and partnerships. “The summertime is a tricky time for brands because there’s not much out there that’s original and that you know you’re going to get a large audience outside of the (MLB) All-Star Game; this year Fox did the Field of Dreams game, which is something that was new.
“With something like SummerSlam always being huge and knowing there’s a live audience coming back, the demand was truly unbelievable and incredible.”
SummerSlam sponsors feature countless blue-chip brands including: DraftKings, Victoria, 2K, Pure Life Purified Water, Cricket Wireless, C4 Energy, Credit One Bank, and Wargaming.
For the first time in WWE history, the annual estival event which began in 1988 will have an official water in Pure Life Purified Water (from BlueTriton Brands) and an official beer in Victoria Beer (from Constellation Brands).
Pure Life will have a unique in-show integration coupled with a custom TV spot featuring WWE superstars Big E and Sasha Banks and WWE global ambassador Titus O’Neil. The brand will also be the presenting partner of the official SummerSlam After Party hosted by comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish.
Victoria Beer, which announced a multi-platform partnership with WWE in October 2020, kicked off its relationship with a one-of-a-kind custom mask worn by superstar Rey Mysterio at the Royal Rumble in January. The brand will continue to leverage the legendary luchador in campaigns, while also sponsoring the SmackDown Tag Team Championship match where Mysterio and son Dominik look to dethrone The Usos.
“Part of what I love about being at WWE is that we have so many superstars who have these huge unique fan bases and the fact that we have a vast array of talent to choose from when a partner comes to us, so we can make sure to align them with the perfect superstar that makes sense for their brand,” said Lilien, who joined WWE in April. “Victoria spoke specifically about Rey Mysterio, which makes perfect sense with it being a Mexican beer.”
While WWE offers brand partners a variety of activations and integrations whether through custom content, social media—WWE is the No. 1 sports channel on YouTube (80.4 million subscribers) and No. 2 sports channel on TikTok (12.8 million followers)—or in-ring, leveraging its cast of larger-than-life superstars is the key to unlocking the perfect partnership.
Cricket Wireless, the official wireless provider of WWE, will run a spot from their national TV campaign featuring WWE superstar Kofi Kingston, while also serving as the presenting partner of the SummerSlam Kickoff Show. C4 Energy is working with WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns, WWE SmackDown Champion Bianca Belair and superstars Mandy Rose and Montez Ford with custom content leading up to the event, while also serving as the presenting partner of WWE’s media presence at the MGM Grand.
“It’s one-stop shopping. You come to us, we can figure out who the right superstar is and we can align them with your brand, and you don’t have to deal with a million people; it’s that one point of contact,” Lilien said. “… We’re authentic in all of these spaces and speak to those audiences that are so hard to reach, and brands can tap into that with us and use our authenticity to reach a large audience.”
The event, which will be broadcast in the United States via NBCUniversal’s Peacock OTT platform (and globally on the WWE Network) beginning at 8 p.m. ET, also provides brand partners with a unique opportunity to engage with wrestling and non-wrestling fans alike. The year-old streaming service reached 54 million sign ups and 20 million active accounts as of late July, CEO Brian Roberts told investors during Comcast’s second-quarter conference call.
Similarly to how movie studios have incorporated and leveraged WWE superstars, with The Rock and John Cena being the two most successful, Lilien said the sports entertainment goliath has the same capability with brand partners.
“If you look at how movie studios hire our talent to be in their films, they do that because they know there’s a built-in audience that’s going to follow them wherever they are,” she said. “We have the ability to take our vast array of superstars and loan them almost to brands for the same thing.
“That built-in audience is going to pay attention to your brand messaging because you’re associated with somebody with such a large following and such an authenticity about them.”