WWE Chairwoman & Co-CEO Stephanie McMahon and Co-CEO Nick Khan attended the Wells Fargo TMT Conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday with analyst Steven Cahall. Stephanie spoke about the significance of the White Rabbit teases leading up to Bray Wyatt’s return to WWE.
She said, “In terms of in-ring content, under Paul Levesque, it’s one of the key strengths that he was one of the biggest performers in the history of our business. He understands what it takes to be a successful superstar, one of the most successful. He understands audience connection and how to create content in a way I don’t think many do. When you think about the changes he’s made, the talent he’s brought back, not only bringing back stars, but how he’s doing it.”
“For example, we were bringing back one of our biggest stars, Bray Wyatt, whose character is a bit of a cult-type leader. We used a multi-media approach and hired a horror writer to help us craft this narrative, so fans were engaged. We started doing QR codes randomly in the background. It’s what we called the White Rabbit Project. There were interactive games, there were different misleads. We had one puzzle that was coordinated to a record store in Corbin, Kentucky that was White Rabbit Records. It happened to be that the people at the store played along. Our fans would call and ask, ‘What’s going on? Is someone returning? What’s happening at WWE?’ They would use some of the language we were using in the campaign and then hang up the phone. One of the codes drove us to a date, and that date happened to be the SmackDown that was happening. It looked like it could be a date or a time code, September 23 or 9:23. At 9:23, we saw viewership increase 20% over that time period. It’s strategies like that, that work because the audience is different and they’re growing and evolving. Some people want to have a lean-back experience, and that’s great, but a lot of people want to engage deeply and have fun and have misleads and misdirections. The worst thing in the world is when things are predictable from a content perspective. We want to make them unpredictable.”