Entertainment marketers have always looked to expand the promotional boundaries for touting new films or TV shows -- properties that really need to be wrestled to the ground, so to speak.
Since June, World Wrestling Entertainment's "Raw" on USA Network has been adding more celebrities as "special guests" -- some of them in the ring fighting off full-nelsons.
Recently, Jeremy Piven could be found tussling between the ropes for his Paramount theatrical movie "The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard"; Shaquille O'Neal was found going eye-to-eye for his ABC reality show "Shaq Vs."
Future celebs include game show host Bob Barker, the Rev. Al Sharpton, "Access Hollywood" co-host Nancy O'Dell, and boxer Floyd Mayweather. Possible other hosts include LeBron James, Ashlee Simpson, the Osbournes, Danny DeVito, Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa, Jimmy Fallon, Rachael Ray, MC Hammer, Woody Harrelson, Serena Williams and Ashton Kutcher.
Featuring celebrities on somewhat legit-looking talk shows, news shows, sports news shows, and even cooking shows has been done for years. Celebrities touting their wares have also appeared on a variety of other TV shows -- comedies, dramas, and reality shows.
For entertainment marketers, wrestling is about targeting young male demographic viewers. (All of which means that Rachael Ray, Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa future appearances seem be a mystery, since their daytime shows cater to mostly women 25-54 audiences.)
"Raw" has gain some 10% viewership since all this has begun. USA Network hopes new viewership might spill over into some of its original shows as well.
This kind of 'branded entertainment' might not seem all that 'organic', running against true branded entertainment precepts. But I'm thinking that's why it works. Big stars mixing it up with bulky, long-blonde-haired tattooed men in colorful lycra makes for some sweaty and unpredictable entertainment.
We can only ask -- what are they doing there? Octogenarian Bob Barker? Come on down!