“In 1995, I had $7 in my pocket, and I knew two things: I’m broke as hell, and one day I won’t be. “
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has become a household name since the beginning of his career as a pro-wrestler. The reason for that being his fantastic ability to grow himself as a personal brand through impressive and consistent cross-platform branding and aligning himself with his passions while also maintaining relationships with his fans through social media.
From a young age, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been through quite a lot but always managed to hustle to becoming one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time, becoming one of the highest-paid actors in the industry, and developing himself from just a “mere actor” to an enterprise.
Since his time as a pro-WWE wrestler, Johnson has become a powerhouse in the entertainment industry, being ranked as one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors. His career has continued as he diversifies and expands his horizons with a successful production company, popular YouTube channel, lifestyle brand, millions of social media, and plenty of blockbuster movies.
Let us look at how Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has used PR and marketing to his benefit to be the celebrity that he is today.
1) Being good at his craft
Much like any company that wants to establish themselves as an authority in any highly saturated market by creating a unique product that will attract their target audiences, Johnson has been successful because he has shown that he is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to the entertainment industry.
His WWE career helped launch him into the industry’s eyes and arms when he was asked to host Saturday Night Live, which marked a turning point in Johnson’s career. That appearance caught the eye of TV and movie executives who gave him a cameo in The Mummy Returns and, later, The Scorpion King, which went on to earn more than double of the $60 million budget for the movie.
But even before SNL, he was already listed as being #5 on Entertainment Weekly’s Top 12 Entertainers of the year and was listed in Forbes Celebrity 100 and People’s Magazine’s 25 Most Intriguing People.
Another reason Johnson has been successful is his wide range when it comes to his film career. Unlike other wrestlers-turned actors like Hulk Hogan and Bill Goldberg, who only focused on playing roles that tied in with their wrestling arena characters, Johnson shows great diversity in his acting skills by playing varied characters from action to family films. While he was able to highlight his ability to play different characters, he noticed that the movies he was in were not receiving the box office results. Johnson decided to pivot and come up with another PR and marketing plan for his brand. At this point in his career, he became known for reinvigorating film franchises after joining the Fast & Furious franchise as Luke Hobbs and portraying Marvin F. Hinton in G.I Joe: Retaliation to return to the brawn that first earned him his fan base.
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2) Leveraging his existing reach
People worldwide already knew him through his WWE career, where he won the heavyweight title six times and the tag-team title five. He has been so successful in his career that he can use his existing reach to break into the new markets that he was trying to enter. At the moment, he has already had a long and successful film career where he has been able to amass a following of 153 million on just one social media platform.
“Social media has become the most critical element of marketing a movie for me. I have established social media equity with an audience around the world that there’s a value in what I’m delivering to them.” –Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Social media has proven to effectively market Johnson’s brand because he understands the importance of having a strategy and goal that is simple. It has also allowed him to get opinions and feedback from his fans, which has caused him to position himself so that fans appreciate.
“When I launched Twitter, my biggest goal was to be authentic, so that people know that when their tweet alert goes off on their device, that it’s coming directly from my hands. I also try to make it a platform for three things — motivation, encouragement, and entertainment. And it’s a great way for me to have my finger on the pulse of what my fans do and don’t like in terms of projects and overall sentiment, because there’s no other platform on Earth that gives me that instant feedback.” – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Companies should take this advice to heart when it comes to social media marketing. Unlike so many other communication and media types, social media platforms can make or break a company’s reputation. Being authentic and personable allows existing and potential customers to be informed about what is going on within the company.
Johnson’s social media marketing strategies have also proven that motivation, encouragement, entertainment, and listening are fundamental for companies to keep in mind when developing their strategy. Regardless of what their intentions may be, they need to use social media to better their brand. They can use their platforms to encourage communication and open dialogue with their customers because it is not necessarily about the reach a brand has. Instead, the reach their followers have to influence others. Also, to stand out from the crowd, companies need to create entertaining content to capture their audience and make their content compelling. As mentioned by “The Rock” himself, social media allows companies to get immediate feedback from followers. Companies need to use these platforms as an opportunity to do market research for their target audience.
While it may seem that Johnson has been able to achieve what he has just by being himself combined with his already existing career and his organic following, the truth is that the marketing aspect of his brand has been planned, researched, and implemented through social analytics and Johnson and his team’s savviness of knowing what to share, when to share it, and where.
Social analytics is the primary way to understand how companies and individuals can attract millions of followers and prospects and engage them authentically to create business success.
3) Combining his brand with his passions
Another reason Johnson has been successful is that he has been known as the king of brand collaborations. He makes wise decisions regarding branding expansion and chooses products that he already uses and loves.
One of the product collaborations he has done has been with VOSS water, which he has been a consumer of for many years and continually mentions his social media platforms.
“Owning water always intrigued me – partly because I drink 4 gallons a day. But finding the right partner with shared values, ethics, and a corporate culture I admire is what motivated me to make this deal.”
When a company decides to expand their brand or bring other companies to collaborate with, they need to find ones that will mutually benefit both parties and help a company’s reputation rather than hurt it. They need to do the proper research to see other brands, influencers, and media outlets that fit their mission and goals.
Through this process and his influence on his fan base worldwide, Johnson has also launched his own YouTube channel with his production studio “Seven Bucks Productions,” where he creates his content for his millions of subscribers. The company was designed to be a multi-platform enterprise pioneering original content for television, film, emerging technologies, and digital networks while also executing exclusive creative output. His production company’s intention was geared towards transforming Johnson from “just an actor” into an enterprise. Since the launch of the company, Johnson’s appearance in movies has also caused the team to shift into high gear to work on every element, from developing the script to aiding production and helping guide its promotional rollout.
He has also changed how audiences can view the movie-making process by sharing set secrets and behind the scenes footage. While disclosing this kind of information used to be a no-no, after the connection Johnson was able to make with his fan base, studios were finally seeing that by doing this, there was real value in it when trying to connect with audiences.
4) High level of discipline
Throughout his career, Johnson has been known for his impressive physique, which led him to become “People’s Sexiest Man Alive.” If anything can be learned from Johnson, being “sexy” is not just about having a great physical appearance; it is also about having the brains to back it up. His worldwide and long-term success is awe-inspiring, but because he works hard, it is consistent, which has resulted in his discipline manifesting into dollars.
“It’s meant to speak to how training is a mentality, that the work you put in the gym extends to real life, and that mentality is consistent. That’s part of what makes Dwayne magical—is how he applies that same discipline from the gym into everything.” – Maya Lasry, Chief Marketing Officer of Seven Bucks Production.
5) Having the right team
While it may seem to the casual observer that creating content, promoting his works, and himself is simple, he most likely has many experienced advisors, mentors, and a support team that helps him maximize his brand. Unfortunately, a lot of individuals and companies may not have that luxury. If that is the case, they can always do their PR and marketing to enhance their brand or hire PR professionals to effectively create content to employ a PR and marketing strategy effectively.
Pressfarm is a public relations agency that helps companies create and compile all the necessary information to get media professionals and their target audience’s attention. Their professionals will also use their expertise to help with social media marketing and boost SEO for online visibility.
6) Expanding to new markets
As mentioned previously, Johnson has been successful because of his ability to expand his reach to many different industries successfully. However, he has also managed to expand to international markets. What proved to be unsuccessful in the North American market made him very popular in the Asian market, which helped him develop his brand globally. For example, his film Skyscraper did not do very well in the United States but received $48 million in the Chinese box office opening weekend, and it became the top-grossing title worldwide just that weekend. Since he is the king of brand collaborations, Johnson used the popularity he received from the film’s popularity to do branding collaborations in China and Japan. This shows that he is not complacent with the position that he is in and continues to find new ways to expand his brand.
“When you walk to opportunity’s door: don’t knock it. Kick that bitch in, smile, and introduce yourself.”
While a company’s brand collaboration may not reach international levels, they should try to look out for other success potentials.
7) Connecting with a cause
From his pro-wrestling days, Johnson has been an advocate for how fitness can positively impact people’s lives. With health and fitness becoming an important topic, he has been an influencer in that industry by sharing his fitness routines, advice and spreading words of wisdom to anyone who may need it and listen.
He even launched his reality TV show, Wake Up Call, to lend a helping hand to every day facing significant challenges in their lives but still wanted to achieve their dreams only if they put the effort in. Just in the first episode, Johnson helped a high-school dropout with aspirations of becoming a mixed martial arts fighter get his “wake up call” with an intervention, meeting UFC president Dana White, training with former fighter-turned-nutritionist Mike Dolce, and a chance to get sponsored by American Top Team’s young fighters program.
He advocates for the importance of fitness and health through his Project Rock collaboration with Under Armour and advertising agency Droga5. The Project Rock collection features gym-focused apparel for men, women, and youth. It combines Johnson’s ideas for adequate fitness apparel with Under Amour’s innovative UA Charged Cotton technology.
“My new collection is built for the hardest workers in the room. I don’t care how old you are, what you do for a living, or what your bank account says. This collection is designed for the ones who know that success comes one way—through the work.”
Companies should note that customers tend to gravitate towards a company that also includes social responsibility in the marketing campaign. They will resonate more with a company that reaches out to support an important cause.
Putting personal opinion of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson aside, one thing that remains constant is that he could rise from many personal issues to become a household name and one that people can associate with different things. He uses his discipline to commit and put effort into every project that he endeavors. Social media marketing has played a huge role in connecting with his audience on a deeper level. Through Johnson’s struggles and successes, companies can look to his tactics when developing and implementing their PR and marketing strategies.