JapanToday.com had an online interview with Ed Wells, vice president and general manager of WWE Japan. Wells stated that WWE is looking to build business outside of North America and in Japan. Wells said they would look to do that by firstly satisfying current fans in terms of content and secondly by moving into the entertainment side of things.
The article goes into Wells’ credentials: ‘‘WWE has become so popular in Japan that an office was established last January to grow and manage the business directly. That’s when Wells came on board. Born in Detroit, he graduated from the University of Michigan in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies and Japanese. He added a Master of Arts in International Affairs at American University (1996-1997), followed by a Master of Arts in International Relations at Kyoto’s Ritsumeikan University from 1997-98.’
‘Wells joined the international program sales department of MTV Networks International in New York in 1999. He spent two years in Singapore and had a stint as vice president and general manager for the Nickelodeon division of Viacom International Japan before joining WWE.’
Wells was very candid about WWE’s marketing strategy:
“Our fans don’t consider us sports. They know we are entertainment and tune in to see a drama. All of our programming is storyline based with wrestling at the heart of it. I would say our competition around the world is not other pro wrestling leagues. Rather it is Hollywood dramas such “24,” “Lost” and “Heroes.”
“I think we have a very solid foundation. We need to start to attract new fans and give people a reason to try us out. I have no doubt that if they watch our content, they are going to get hooked. It is fun to watch. You can start anytime. It’s not like a lot of TV dramas where if you just tune in mid-season, it’s very hard to catch up. WWE’s basic concept is good vs evil and it’s quite easy to understand.”
‘When WWE holds four major events in the U.S.—Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, Summer Slam and Survivor -– we do something special for our fans in Japan. In February, we had Royal Rumble Japan Tour at Budokan and Ariake Coliseum. In May, diva Torrie Wilson came for Wrestlemania. We did a viewing party with a giant screen and sold tickets for fans to watch it. Torrie has quite a big following. The event sold out immediately. One of the most important things in marketing a brand is creating a connection between that brand and viewers. We make these events interactive; it’s not just sitting back and watching a show. The stars love Japan.
‘The Summer Slam Tokyo viewing party for 500 fans is on Sept 7 from 2-6 p.m. at Stellar Ball (inside Shinagawa Prince Hotel). Guest stars will be Diva Victoria and Diva Maria. In future, I would like to do events around the country, like a road show because not all of our fans can come to Tokyo.’
WWE brands are shown on J Sports ESPN, 1, 2, and Plus every day.