By its own admission, World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. or WWE matches are not “sport” in that they are choreographed and the outcomes are predetermined.  Nonetheless, WWE’s WrestleMania was included in Forbes magazine’s (November 23, 2015) ranking of the 40 most valuable sports brands in the world, broken down into four categories of 10 each:  business, event, athlete, and team.  The number one ranking in each category was held by Nike (business), Super Bowl (event), Tiger Woods (athlete), and New York Yankees (team).

Forbes explained the methodology it used in the rankings:  “The Forbes Fab 40 measures the value of the top brands in sports.  Our brand values do not tell you what the top teams, athletes, businesses and events in sports are worth.  Rather, the Fab 40 quantifies how much the name of each–all by itself–contributes to the value.”

Sports events brands were ranked on the criterion of revenue-per-event-day.  The top ten events were:

Rank                                            Brand Value ($mil)
1    Super Bowl                                     580
2   Olympic Summer Games               348
3   Olympic Winter Games                  285
4   FIFA World Cup                               229
5   WrestleMania                                  170
6   NCAA Men’s Final Four                   150
7   Daytona 500                                    136
8   UEFA Champions League               127
9   College Football Playoff                 106
10  World Series                                   101

Source:  Forbes November 23, 2015, p. 28.

WrestleMania’s brand was not only the fifth most valuable in the global event category, but it came out ahead of, for example, the World Series, the NBA finals, the NHL finals, Formula One and NASCAR auto racing extravaganzas, and the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup.

This result lucidly illustrates how shrewd marketing can create brand equity, even in a faux sport like professional wrestling that has prospered despite ridicule and recurring scandals.

Unlike the WWE, North American horse racing has long suffered from a lack of a coherent marketing strategy, aided and abetted by parochial interests in the sport/business.  As a result, commendable and well-funded efforts by the Jockey Club to craft and implement a grand strategy have been undermined, for instance, by intractable pricing on the part of racetracks and resistance to uniform drug policy and testing by numerous owners and trainers.

Copyright 2015 Horse Racing Business