How WWE Created a 5G-Enabled ‘Chair Phone’ – Q&A With Cricket Wireless Marketing AVP

Posted on by Kaylee Hultgren

There are passionate fanbases. And then there are WWE fans.

A little taste of their rabid fandom: The first-ever WWE SmackDown event held in France, which took place earlier this week, reportedly registered a noise level that exceeded 100 decibels, which can result in hearing loss after prolonged exposure. Now that’s a crowd.

Cricket Wireless, presenting partner for both nights of the recent “Countdown to WrestleMania XL” show, took advantage of this excitement for its latest marketing stunt. In an effort to stand out in the crowded 5G messaging space, the mobile carrier constructed a quirky new invention that incorporated one of WWE’s most beloved and infamous ringside props: the folding chair. The resulting creation is the world’s first 5G-powered chair, which can actually make calls, send texts, play music, stream video and—naturally—doubles as a fog machine.

The 5G-enabled prop was unveiled to a WWE crowd live in the ring at Lincoln Financial Field in  Philadelphia on April 6 and was featured in a new ad campaign with WWE Superstars Chad Gable and Otis. What’s more, the chair phone will embark on a tour of various Cricket Wireless retail stores, accompanied by in-person wrestlers, as a way to showcase the prop and engage with fans.

And there’s a bonus: the brand created a phone chair, a mini folding chair that can be used as a phone stand, to accompany the chair phone. These small replicas of the original, distributed to attendees of the retail events, include a QR code to drive people to the campaign’s cheekily-written landing page to explore its features in more detail.

Here’s how the WWE and Cricket Wireless chair phone invention came together, according to Cindy Rozier, AVP, Marketing – Brand – Advertising, National Sponsorships, at Cricket Wireless.

Chief Marketer: When I think of wrestling, a partnership between a chair and a phone isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. How did the idea to make a 5G-enabled phone chair come about?

Cindy Rozier of Cricket Wireless: When you think about Cricket, our purpose is to inspire smiles, one meaningful connection at a time, and meaningful connection ties so well with our [10-year] WWE partnership. We thought about our consumers and their passion for WWE, and we love making sure that, again, true to our purpose, we connect them to things that matter to them. It’s such a passionate fanbase… and an innovative way to demonstrate the power of our 5G network with such an iconic prop—the chair in WWE wrestling. We thought putting them together could be such an ingenious, innovative way to get fans to engage.

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CM: What are the challenges of doing that? Did you have to hire new people and go to experts to make this crazy thing?

CR: We had to go to experts to make the crazy thing for sure. But it’s a bit of our business, too. We know wireless, but we had to have someone construct it for us. But we felt sure we could power a chair and make it a true 5G experience by partnering with someone and advising them how to do it. It has many features that are typical of a cell phone. You can make a call on it. You can plug in a USB. You can charge it. We even built a giant pop socket for it because we thought that was hysterical. Also a fog machine! In true WWE fashion. So, we did it in the style of both a truly wireless experience on 5G, but also something that would nod to the power of the chair in the way it’s used in the ring.

CM: How did the reveal go in both the actual WWE event and then also for retail customers?

CR: We first started teasing it on our organic social channels, and it exceeded the expectation. We started the week before WrestleMania week because we knew we were ultimately going to reveal it in the WrestleMania pre-show. So we started there, with riddles—teasing it out, but we weren’t really revealing what it was. Then we revealed what we were going to do on social media right before WrestleMania. We doubled the level of engagement that we usually have on this type of content, and WWE content really connects with our consumers so it typically performs really well.

Sentiment has been extremely positive within the first 48 hours that the TV spot was running. It garnered over a million impressions. We were thrilled that the chair made its debut in the WWE pre-show, and the WWE 40—this last WrestleMania—we know will be the biggest WrestleMania to date. So it was great timing and it tied closely to our consumer’s passion point.

CM: Who is your specific target market with this? Is it more defined than just WWE fans?

CR: For this specific spot, it’s contextually focused on WWE fans, but the WWE universe is huge. We’re targeting Cricket consumers that may already be Cricket customers or potential Cricket customers, and showing the power of our network in a unique way… and bringing it to life differently in this actual object that people could see and experience and engage with.

CM: Last but not least: Tell me about the 2024 Chair Phone Tour.

CR: The chair will be on tour at select Cricket stores nationwide, and we’ll pair that sometimes with WWE superstar appearances. We select stores around the country to bring superstars in to give our consumers something that they never get to experience. Typically, we have hundreds of people standing outside of our stores wanting to meet superstars, and this really enhances that experience for our customers. And the mini cell phone holders—you can prop up your cell phone on it—we’ll be distributing those along with the chair phone appearances at our stores.


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