What could possibly go wrong when one of the Western world’s greatest live event brands – involving nearly naked men grappling with each other in front of a baying audience – meets the ultra-conservative Kingdom of the Guardian of the Two Holy Mosques – Saudi Arabia?

The challenge wasn’t so much about promoting a series of three nights of WWE live in the Saudi capital, Riyadh (a market with an existing WWE fan base and one seen to have even further fan potential too) – although that was also phenomenally successful. It was about managing expectations of the Saudi authorities & specifically helping WWE navigate its way through the red tape, permissions & approvals required for an event such as WWE to take place in Riyadh for the first time.

Targeting the public, government decision makers & business owners was key to making this event a success; setting a benchmark for future tours.

Activities overall combined direct engagement with the community, social media, thought leadership & influencer engagement, underpinned by a drumbeat of effective stories in influential news outlets.

WWE superstars got active in the community in the weeks leading up to the event & embraced local culture through a school & hospital visit, fan meetings & media desk visits.

Exclusive phone interviews with Tier One outlets & influencers, as well as an interview with WWE superstar John Cena on KSA’s number one sports channel were set up to help.

The results were huge with engagement from 120 different media outlets local, regional & international.

The four-month campaign delivered on its promise of engaging the local public & overcoming the concerns of the Saudi authorities. Over 15,000 visitors attended the shows together with more than 120 local, regional & international media.

This resulted in increased ticket sales, shifting negative perception towards this category of entertainment & building an interest from business owners to capitalise on the success of this event in upcoming iterations.