Mr. McMahon: Promotional Powerhouse
NEW YORK CITY -- What took these people so long?
That is, perhaps, what the ever-irascible Mr. McMahon thought as he looked out onto the assembled masses in the Grand Ballroom of Manhattan's Hilton New York Hotel. The WWE Chairman found himself there to accept the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 53rd annual Promax|BDA Conference for his remarkable accomplishments and innovations in global marketing, advertising and promotion.
"I truly deserve this," the WWE Chairman told the capacity crowd composed of hundreds of entertainment industry insiders as well as the McMahon family, including wife Linda, daughter Stephanie and son Shane. "[That's] probably something you won't hear anybody else say."
Then again, no one else has been so willing to venture the risks Mr. McMahon has --risks that have forged WWE into a worldwide marketing force, broadcast in 130 countries in 23 different languages.
"Mr. McMahon has created an indispensable television brand," said Promax|BDA president Jonathan Block-Verk as he opened the ceremony, "one that, quite literally, keeps the lights on at many [television] networks and stations around the globe."
After accepting his award, the Chairman sat with Chris Pursell, Deputy Editor of TelevisionWeek, for a special Q&A session. Questions ranged from who Mr. McMahon thought was the ultimate Superstar ("That would be me!") and where he came up with the idea for Mr. McMahon's Kiss My Ass Club ("I have 10 employees lined up every morning to do just that, so I decided to bring it to TV."), to prevailing over WCW in the Monday Night Wars ("I really enjoyed kicking Ted Turner's butt.") and how he created his latest promotional masterstroke, "McMahon's Million Dollar Mania" ("That process is called ‘insanity.'").
Over the course of the 45-minute event, Mr. McMahon advised the marketing hopefuls that an idea might need more than just three weeks to work, never dictate to your audience, rather give your audience what it is they want, and don't be afraid to take risks.
"[The first] WrestleMania was unquestionably my biggest gamble," said the Chairman, responding to one questioner. "If that hadn't worked, I wouldn't be sitting here."
And "here" has been pretty good to the larger-than-life risk-taker recently. The man our fans hate to love received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in March, and now joins past Promax|BDA Lifetime Achievement Award luminaries, including artist and pop icon Peter Max.
Toward the end of the ceremony, Mr. McMahon unleashed his characteristic immodesty one last time.
"As a model, [WWE] could be the greatest and biggest marketing juggernaut in the world," the Chairman told the rapt audience. He then added, with a sly grin, "And I say that humbly."