I grew up watching WWWF wrestling when Vince McMahon was the broadcaster. Actually, even before that. I would stay up late to watch Florida Championship Wrestling with Gordon Solie. The same with Georgia Championship Wrestling, even the AWA when Thunderlips pre-dated the creation of Hulk Hogan. In the 80's was at the Spectrum in the media conference for the first promotional tour for Wrestlemania and in the late 70's I interviewed Bruno Sammartino for the Philadelphia Journal (well promoter Phil Zacko did most of the talking). I'm also a music junkie and what is going on with the WWE and music plus their talent roster is all part of a bigger play.
The idea of a campaign is typical to marketing. It starts with a hint. A tease. It grows. And grows. What the WWE and Rousey's managers are doing, are building more than just one person. Wrestling has always been a soap opera. Stories within stories. Themes within themes. As a student of advertising I love a great campaign and seeing all the nuances that the public takes for granted. This is one of them.
The WWE has done a masterful job at reviving the song "Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett. They are doing it with "Rowdy" Rhonda Rousey, a former MMA champ, but also with the whole women's movement surrounding the Divas, what they did in the UAE last summer and with their upcoming all women's pay per view. That means some music supervisor came up with a few songs that could be the core of the campaign. Hats off to that person. Then a creative director and team built upon it. Mastery on so many levels.
This is a campaign around a campaign, carefully crafted to broaden their audience at a time where the "Me Too" movement is alive and growing. While I have no doubt that at some point the same thing went on in the WWE, that's ages ago and from a different era. As someone who grew up in sports and entertainment, that was part of the game off the playing field. It wasn't right then, it was just how it was.
But today, with youthful stars like Rousey, Charlotte Flair and others who are now competing on par with the likes of the top male wrestlers, the WWE, their close confidants in the world of Hollywood agentry are shaping things the way the big 4 networks have not even come close to. The same can be said about the NHL, NFL and MLB, while the NBA at least has the WNBA. You don't see the NHL glorifying women's hockey, yet it's an Olympic sport. The NCAA has the women's hockey championships. So while we all know wrestling is reality TV at it's finest, and live reality in the arenas, it has surpassed the rest of the groups at moving in the direction of giving women their place, "bad reputation" or not.