It's no surprise that the WWE wants to expand their brand. In the 1990s, it was the failed World Bodybuilding Federation that they tried to expand with, followed by the XFL at the turn of the millennium. The WWE has since realized that the "WWE" brand name is an important part of expansion of the product and has cut down on their expansion. They nixed a WWE Records idea and are expanding slowly on the WWE Films project, primarily with films that star wrestlers on their roster.
Now, the company is planning a WWE men's lifestyle magazine to complement their WWE RAW and WWE Smackdown monthly magazines they currently published. Since WWE courts the young adult male category and those who aspire to keep up with the trends in that category, even if they are older, the magazine may hit the core demographic in a powerful way. Since I have heard very little about the project so far, I'm not yet sure what this means. But it should be an interesting story to follow.
In the 27 February 2006 edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer points out that the company must be careful with ventures
into building brand awareness if they don't have a strong enough economic impact on their main product--selling pro wrestling. "A few years back, the WWE did its own Super Bowl commercial with the same thing in mind. In hindsight, the results of those adds were that they added nothing to company business, nor did they end up building any noticeable long-term awareness for the companies that purchased them. In many cases, tests showed consumers would remember the best ads, but would have no memory of who the ads were for and the companies gained nothing from them. Tons of research done to prove what should have been obvious from the start."
So this brings up the very real question at the heart of what we're doing here at C3...How do you build brand awareness, be creative, reach out to the fans, expand your product, etc., yet in a way that doesn't waste away major capital with no economic upside. In the case of the men's lifestyle magazine, it will likely be all in the handling. As Dave points out, the product must expand well beyond their core product of pro wrestling but contain enough markers back to their product that it makes it acceptable to their core base. This may be where WWE learned their lesson with failures such as the XFL and are hoping to improve by making WWE Films about smaller budget with WWE stars making appearances in the movie. The key is to find ways of expanding the convince the current fan base to be willing to expand along with the company, even while bringing in new fans with these expanding ventures.