- World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is releasing a series of nonfungible tokens (NFTs) inspired by wrestler John Cena ahead of its Aug. 21 pay-per-view event, "SummerSlam," per a press release.
- Two auctions will be presented with the help of crypto company Bitski on WWE.com/NFT, the first of which will offer a one-of-a-kind NFT and other prizes starting during this week's "SmackDown" program (Aug. 20) and ending 24 hours later at the beginning of "SummerSlam." The second auction will release 500 more collectibles on Aug. 21, in addition to a limited-edition merchandise box designed by Cena.
- WWE also announced a partnership with Spotify-owned The Ringer — a content network specializing in sports, pop culture and fandom — that will hand over WWE's original podcasts to Spotify as well as generate new WWE audio content, according to a separate release. The two announcements see WWE activating disparate digital channels to connect with consumers.
WWE's NFT campaign arrives as the organization looks to deepen its engagement with fans through digital platforms. The giveaway of an NFT inspired by John Cena — arguably the most recognizable figure in professional wrestling — as well as other prizes including VIP tickets to Wrestlemania 38 or 39, a personalized WWE Championship title belt and Cena's "Dr. of Thuganomics"-style chain could help to drive interest in WWE ahead of "SummerSlam," one of the organization's pay-per-view events. This year's event will take place from Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas — the event's first appearance at an NFL venue — and air on NBC's Peacock platform in the U.S. and WWE Network everywhere else.
Sports marketers, particularly professional sporting organizations, are increasingly activating NFTs in their marketing as blockchain technology grows in popularity. The NBA has an NFT marketplace, the NFL is in talks to develop its own strategy and this week MLB tapped Karin Timpone as its new CMO, with whom it plans to explore blockchain behind the marketing vet's background in digital media.
At the same time that WWE is activating NFTs, it is also building out its offerings on an audio-based digital platform. Spotify-owned The Ringer will annex and rebrand WWE's original podcasts in addition to creating a new title, "MackMania," hosted by WWE personality Evan Mack. These moves could expand WWE's reach on the popular audio channel by leveraging Spotify's global scale, per Bill Simmons, founder of The Ringer.
Another notable element of the partnership is the use of Spotify Greenroom, the company's Clubhouse clone, to offer live conversations after WWE matches starting with this week's "SummerSlam." Live audio is an emerging media channel that marketers are hoping will provide new touch points to connect with consumers, though how to effectively activate it is still being explored. Spotify Greenroom was released in June after Spotify acquired and rebranded Betty Labs and its live audio app Locker Room.
As it looks to build out its sports-related offerings, Spotify is also adopting social media strategies to generate more fresh content. The company earlier this month launched What's New, a news feed that allows users to receive updates on their favorite podcasts and recording artists. By potentially driving repeat visits from mobile users, the feature could allow marketers to sharpen their understanding of audience behavior and how to target ads.