When it comes to odd couples, the unlikely pairing of Unicef USA (United Nations Children’s Fund) and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) might qualify for such a distinction, at least at first blush.
“We are both brands that are magnificent, but maybe somewhat misunderstood,” acknowledged Shelley Diamond, Unicef USA’s CMO.
It turns out, however, that the two parties may not be such opposites after all. As Diamond explained: “We are both global. We talk to kids all over the world, but most importantly we have a shared mission of helping kids get active and doing good.”
Diamond called the partnership, now in its third year, the “perfect marriage.” She was joined by WWE’s CBO Stephanie McMahon on the virtual stage during Adweek’s week-long Brandweek Sports Marketing Summit on Wednesday.
After the partnership was formed in 2018, the two brand’s efforts have since provided a much-needed lifeline for children in need. McMahon explained that the brand has four key pillars for giving back, including hope, inclusion, empowerment and service, with Unicef fitting into the “empowerment bucket.”
“It’s not just about empowering women, it’s about empowering kids, empowering families, empowering people, really all over the world,” McMahon said. “It’s such a privilege to be able to put smiles on people’s faces, which is WWE‘s mission. Our superstars say the very favorite part of their job is when they have the opportunity to interact and engage in the community.”
The two organizations ramped up their alliance in early 2019 to create Unicef Kid Power. The program helps kids save lives by connecting their daily activities to solving real-world problems. During the pandemic, the program was adapted to reach children at home as well as in the classroom, becoming a boon for families sequestered in their houses to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. Through Unicef Kid Power Up interactive videos, kids dance, move, play games and learn. By completing the activities, kids unlock lifesaving therapeutic food donations, which are then delivered to severely malnourished children around the world, according to Diamond.
“It’s basically designed to inspire kids to move, and through movement they earn points that ultimately unlock meals,” McMahon said.
By having the opportunity to create content with WWE’s stars—from which children receive messages about being active as well as caring for their mental health—Unicef can help children realize that the difficult feelings they may be struggling to understand is normal, Diamond said.
Through the program, Unicef and WWE have reached about a million kids and unlocked about 100,000 nutritional packs that have saved the lives of children, she said.
“To know that you are part of an organization that actually helps drive impact and change—it’s powerful,” said McMahon.
And it’s a powerful tool for Unicef, too. Diamond said: “To have a global brand of rock stars that kids can learn from and become better people because they listen to them, that is lightning in a bottle.”