Inside C4 Energy’s plan to reach Gen Z with WWE Superstars

C4 Energy is taking its WWE marketing efforts to the next level.

C4 Energy is looking to differentiate its brand in the increasingly competitive market of new and up-and-coming energy drinks like Zoa Energy, Prime and Celsius, among others. The energy drink brand has spent the last three years advertising to WWE fans via connected TV and social media. Now, C4 Energy is partnering with WWE to roll out its new co-branded energy drink products ahead of and at Summerslam, which takes place on August 5 in Detroit.

Katie Geyer, vp of brand partnerships at Nutrabolt, C4 Energy’s parent company, said that the brand first partnered with WWE three years ago and wanted to take its time to build up a relationship with WWE’s superstars and its fans before embarking on more ambitious endeavors within the partnership. This has been especially important for targeting Gen Z consumers, who seek authenticity from marketers and influencers, as previously reported by Digiday.

“If we would have come out of the gate with a product, it may have seemed inauthentic,” she said. “We wanted to first establish a partnership with the WWE, with some of the superstars, see how the fans reacted and learn before we just jumped into the market with a product.” Geyer added that both C4 Energy and WWE share the same core values of family friendly entertainment and to inspire and innovate among their target demographics, which is why the brands partnered in the first place.

For this particular campaign, C4 Energy hopes to build interest in its new product, the C4 Ultimate Pre-Workout drink, targeting WWE fans with a social media activation outside Ford Field Stadium during the weekend of Summerslam. Along with out-of-home print billboards, the brand will promote its sponsorship of Summerslam inside the arena with digital screens and banners attached to barricades, which is a similar move that some brands, including General Mills, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Intuit, made at this year’s WrestleMania. Financial arrangements between C4 Energy and WWE were not disclosed.

C4 Energy’s social media activation will feature WWE talent Seth Rollins, Rhea Ripley Bianca Belair, and Montez Ford who will interact with fans while the brand gives away samples of its new product. The brand’s social media team will capture video content in real time for its TikTok account, which has 332,900 followers, to target Gen Z WWE fans and fitness enthusiasts. They will also publish content organically on Threads to surprise followers with unexpected appearances from social media influencers, according to Matt Salvatore, Nutrabolt’s vp of creative.

“We typically did content from the lens of Instagram since that’s where we win so heavily, but I think this year, knowing the velocities and the growth that we’ve seen in TikTok and Threads, that’s been a strategic landmark for us this summer,” he said, adding that Instagram’s constant algorithm changes have made platforms like Threads and TikTok more appealing.

According to social media analytics platform Hypeauditor, C4 Energy gained its most followers (140,000) this year, after starting to post original content in 2020 featuring skits showing off its products. Salvatore said that C4 Energy’s TikTok strategy is to grab viewers’ attention in under 15 seconds. Some of the brand’s successes on TikTok include incorporating its beverage into a viral video with over 3 million views, leveraging artist Jason Diaz in one video, which exceeded a million views, and a video featuring WWE superstar Seth Rollins published on July 26 with more than 130,000 views. 

“I’m so fortunate to be a C4 ambassador,” said Bianca Belair, WWE Superstar. “’‘Work hard, play hard, train hard,’ isn’t a motto, it’s a lifestyle that C4 and I embody. As an athlete who performs year-round, my level of focus and commitment to training has to be at an all-time high and C4 provides me with the tools I need to reach my goals.”

It is unclear how much C4 Energy is spending on this campaign, as the brand declined to share exact figures. According to Vivvix, including paid social data from Pathmatics, the brand has spent a little over $272,000 on advertising so far in 2023, down from $610,000 in 2022.

The global energy drinks market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8.1% through 2030, with consumers’ increased focus on wellness, endurance and alertness projected to contribute to growth, according to Acumen Research and Consulting. Meanwhile, Future Market Insights estimates the global energy drink market to be worth approximately $68 billion by 2032 and projects a market value of $98.8 billion. And most energy drink consumers are millennials, who constitute approximately 50% of the total market.

“WWE’s popularity is sky high right now, higher than it has been in years,” said Jason Solomon, host of the award winning podcast “Solomonster Sounds Off,” in which he’s recapped the biggest stories in the professional wrestling landscape since 2007. “There is an overlap between the two audiences, and this collaboration provides C4 with a great deal of visibility given WWE’s enormous social media reach.”

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