Enter Jim Byrne, a former marketing executive with Carsey-Werner, who enlisted as senior VP of marketing for Titan Sports' "World Wrestling Federation" last June.
His mission was to marshal the program's resources and let the media know WWF was bigger than Time Warner's "World Championship Wrestling."
Mr. Byrne, 41, says gaining the ear of the media was a crucial step. He says he cultivated media relationships to portray wrestling as a mainstream entertainment concept. His efforts resulted in WWF's appearance on seven TV Guide covers in seven months.
Mr. Byrne also refocused marketing efforts for pay-per-view events-traditionally promoted well in advance-so promos ran only one week prior to the broadcast. Mr. Byrne says he made the switch because viewers don't plan their viewing that far ahead.
"Leverage up!" is his favorite motto, he says. "With whatever this next best effort of ours is, are we leveraging it up for all that it's worth? Are we translating it across all of our different platforms and integrated marketing pieces to make sure it's getting its absolute best shot?"
In the end, he says, "There's no distinction between our programming and our marketing. They're one and they same. Any contact the consumer has with the WWF, be it marketing communication, programming or live events-bears the stamp of our fresh, irreverent, and in-your-face attitude."
To that end, he made use of the WWF talent by trotting them in front of casting directors, showing around their demo reels. That effort lead to WWF talent appearances on "That 70s Show" immediately following the Super Bowl. The show aired right after the WWF's Super Bowl commercial-a $1.5 million 30-second spot.
"Because we've always been the self-proclaimed bad boys of cable TV, we were basically crashing the network football party," he says. "So all of our communications objectives translated [into] that. We got a lot of people upset, and the ensuing publicity was just a tremendous windfall. From our perspective,