Q&A: John Dwyer, President Of AT&T's Prepaid Portfolio

Last year, Cricket developed a viral campaign featuring wrestler John Cena surprising consumers in one of the brand’s stores. But the company’s ties to World Wrestling Entertainment go deeper than that. Over the weekend, Cricket was on hand for WWE’s SummerSlam at Barclay’s Arena in Brooklyn (which included — as part of the festivities — Cena making a surprise appearance for a group of school children). Prior to the weekend’s kick off, John Dwyer, president of AT&T’s Prepaid Wireless Portfolio (which includes Cricket) spoke with Marketing Daily about the brand’s views toward event partnerships. 

How does Cricket fit within AT&T’s pre-paid portfolio?

Cricket is the fighter brand inside our portfolio. It’s an independent brand, but it has the benefit of running through the AT&T network. The Cricket brand proposition is built around having a simple, smarter, better experience for the no-contract segment. We think about this brand very differently than our competitors. In the prepaid space, people compete on price. We think we have a brand that has separated itself along [our tagline] “Something to smile about.” We think wireless is something customers can be happy about. It can be a joyful experience. Everything we do, we want to make sure we give our customers something to smile about. 



What is it about the WWE that works with your brand and your target audience?

It’s not just an overlap between their target and our audience from a traditional perspective. We wanted to find a brand that had a strong fit with our brand. WWE does that in a couple of ways. At its core, it’s a very local business. They operating in different communities. They’ve done a great job activating their brand and for our brand in local markets. We’ve had WWE personalities in our local stores, driving WWE fans into our stores. And likewise the Cricket customers get crossover with the WWE. This is some of the best entertainment out there. It’s very very consistent with the Cricket brand and the concept of something to smile about. 

How does your approach to sponsorships differ from what your competitors might be doing? 

It’s much less transactional. It’s much more emotional, and I think it’s incredibly authentic to our brand. That’s what is in this idea of Cricket and our "Something to smile about" partnership with WWE, which delivers a product that really is something to smile about. If you put those things together, and you see the way a WWE character is personalized. It’s a very, very natural fit and it helps to accentuate what’s so different about the Cricket brand. We compete in the prepaid space where the value proposition begins and ends with the low price. We actually truly believe in giving our customers the service they deserve and for something to smile about. 

What factors do you look at when thinking about sponsorship opportunities?

The first one we look at is the target demographic that it’s in, and makes sense within our customer segments. We just recently launched a partnership with the House of Blues. They’re a similar kind of fit. They’re about a very, very diverse lineup of music. The idea of music being a place where people experience joy and have great connectivity with others to share [also appealed]. Another sponsorship we’ve got that gets to the whole idea of “Something to smile about” is The Color Run. You’ve never seen people laugh as hard as they do at a Color Run. It was another one of those things that we thought could be a lot of fun and a great way of bringing the Cricket personality to life. 

What sort of places is Cricket that we wouldn’t expect?

You could take any one of these, and it could be surprising. There’s nothing in those properties that necessarily screams wireless. When you think about what the connection is, it’s not something that has synergy with wireless. It’s something that has synergy with our brand. 

[This interview has been condensed and edited.]

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