Industry: Entertainment, Live events
Site: https://medium-rare.com/ | https://shaqvsgronk.com/
Challenge: Quickly build a scalable, media-rich website ahead of a high-profile online event. The site served as the lead destination for promotional content leading up to the virtual party, as well as a hub for the live stream and other day-of activities.
Solution: WordPress site built on WP Engine’s platform, best-in-class cloud infrastructure from AWS.
Results: A seamless, one-of-a-kind online event: Medium Rare, SHAQ, GRONK, and The General Insurance reached over 9 million live viewers around the world, hundreds of thousands of online interactions occurred during the event, and most importantly, it raised six figures for the NAACP and Boys & Girls Clubs Of America, along with a donation of 1.25 million meals to Feeding America.
Focused at the intersection of Sports and Entertainment, Medium Rare partners with global icons to build live event brands and create content. The unique entertainment company specializes in building celebrity fueled brands, managing incredible talent, and helping brands come to life. With a unique understanding of “What’s Next” in entertainment, Medium Rare is made up of a diverse team of promoters, production wizards, marketing gurus, show designers, artist managers, and more.
"It was amazing to combine SHAQ & GRONK’s platforms to create incredible amounts of noise and money for such a great cause."
—–Joe Silberzwig, Co-founder, Medium Rare
A Star-Studded Event Amid Massive Disruption
Medium Rare has long specialized in creating unique, star-studded events that create incredible buzz. Uniquely positioned across Sports & Entertainment, Medium Rare works with Shaquille O’Neal, Rob Gronkowski, Daymond John, DJ Carnage, Virgin Voyages, and many more.
The entertainment company is perhaps best known for its joint venture music festival with O'Neal, a four-time NBA Champion, and Hall of Fame legend.
Shaq’s Fun House, which brings O'Neal’s iconic personality to life, quickly emerged as one of the most in-demand festivals in the U.S., generating billions of media impressions as well as high praise from national press outlets.
Building on that success, Medium Rare teamed up with three-time Super Bowl Champion Rob Gronkowski to launch Gronk Beach, which brought the fun-loving tight end’s custom festival to an oceanfront stage ahead of Super Bowl LIV in Miami.
This event too sold out and generated billions of media impressions.
After canceling hundreds of live events amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the team at Medium Rare began looking for a way to leverage the massive pool of star power they regularly work with in a way that would benefit charity and social justice at large.
While the usual avenues for live events were unavailable due to the pandemic, Medium Rare decided to pivot to an all-virtual broadcast event and created a new festival via live stream: Shaq's Fun House vs Gronk Beach Presented by The General Insurance, which would feature unique, head-to-head challenges between Shaquille O’Neal and Rob Gronkowski, as well as performances by Snoop Dogg, DaBaby, Steve Aoki, Diplo, and more.
The event was also made possible by The General Insurance, who partnered with SHAQ & GRONK to help the vision come to life.
Building a Scalable Destination for Viral Content
While Medium Rare’s in-house events expertise covers everything from production, creative, operations, talent buying, partnerships, and more, the need for a fast, powerful digital solution that could serve as a central hub for this massive online event led them to WordPress, and ultimately, WP Engine.
“We needed something we could build on really quickly that was also really reliable,” said Paul Reed, Medium Rare’s VP of Marketing.
“We needed to focus on the event broadcast itself while feeling comfortable that someone else was taking care of the important things on the back end—uptime, traffic, and security.”
WP Engine proved to be the right partner, he said, and Medium Rare began working with a dedicated team at WP Engine to build and launch the site, which was equipped with Global Edge Security and access to a highly-scalable AWS instance.
The site was launched several weeks ahead of the event, during which the Medium Rare and WP Engine teams remained engaged, prepping for viral events that led up to the party itself. This included appearances by Shaquille O’Neal and Rob Gronwkoski on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Entertainment Tonight, two weeks before the big day. Given Medium Rare’s track record when it comes to generating viral events, everything had to be running smoothly once the word was out.
“The WP Engine team was fantastic helping us prep for all of those moments leading up to the event—like the Fallon appearance–as well as the day of the event itself,” Reed said.
With the site up and running, curious visitors started pouring in to find out more about the Shaq vs Gronk challenges, the upcoming artist performances, and the charities the event was supporting. Additionally, the site integrated with Shopify to build out an eCommerce store where visitors could buy merchandise, including t-shirts and hoodies, all of which benefited the affiliated charities.
One of the Most Popular Live Streams Ever
With so much anticipation leading up to the event, Shaq vs. Gronk kicked off on a Saturday night for more than nine million online viewers who tuned in via the website, TikTok, Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube.
In addition to the massive online attendance—which spanned all 50 states and more than 100 countries—the social media impact generated by the event was enormous.
More than 20 million social views within 24 hours of the event featuring highlights across ESPN, Bleacher Report, SportsCenter, Barstool Sports, Complex, and Yahoo, all of which cemented the event as one of the largest, most engaging live streams of all time.
Some of the featured competitions between Shaq and Gronk included a lip sync battle, a game of HORSE, and even jousting. DJ Diesel (AKA Shaquille O'Neal) also joined the musical performances. All of the action generated a huge interactive response during the live stream, which saw more than 540,000 comments, likes, and interactions in real-time.
“From start to finish, this was an awesome event,” Reed said. “We had so many great moments from the stream and across our social media channels, having that all tie back to a central hub built on WordPress made it all run smoother.”
“With few live events on the horizon, leveraging digital solutions to create that viral social buzz and bring audiences together is an amazing way to create some of that festival feeling, have fun and provide access to great music, all while raising money for charity, if you so choose.”