“Where Hogan goes, the money follows.” That was a statement that Hogan himself made during an interview when looking back on his legendary wrestling career. While Verne Gagne missed out on the opportunity to capitalize on the Rocky III notoriety of the 6’7” bleached blonde heavyweight, Vince McMahon set the stage for Terry Bollea to become the most recognized face in the history of professional wrestling. While not remembered for his textbook displays of mat artistry between the ropes, Hogan’s abilities on the microphone and his distinct appearance made him one of the first megastars in pro wrestling that was able to break through the boundaries to become a pop culture icon.
Where Hogan truly outpaced everyone that wanted to emulate his success is in his attraction of endorsements. Hulk Hogan’s name and likeness have appeared on dozens of products. Sure there were some that were directly in line with his motto of training and taking your vitamins, but Hogan’s image has been used to sell cereal, electronics, deodorant and even fishing rods.
With literally thousands of licensed Hulk Hogan products on the market, the following list illustrates that Hulk Hogan can truly sell anything, and (at least once) even without his permission.
Many of us will remember the ads in the back of old comic books promoting the Joe Weider bodybuilding program, elevating anxious teens from 90-pound weaklings to formidable foes for beach bullies that had kicked sand in their faces. In a lot of ways, this very rudimentary workout set which included a pair of barbells, a jump rope, and a grip trainer seemed to be the same. While there were some tools there to get you started, chances are you weren’t going to emulate The Hulkster’s impressive physique just from the written instructions and accompanying audio tape.
But regardless, you could stretch on your Hulkamania headband and wristbands and convince yourself that you were getting closer to world championship material by the day. Surprisingly, with all of his various endorsement deals, Hulk never cashed in on the home fitness video craze with his own program.
Gamers have had the opportunity to play our dream matches in dozens of wrestling video games over the years, including reprising some of their all-time favorite feuds. However, while Hulk Hogan has been a playable character in many of the WWE games on the market and was also included in the Legends of Wrestling series of games, his own venture into the digital realm of wrestling fell short. Hulk Hogan’s Main Event appeared to have been a great deal negotiated for himself as the only recognized character in game-play, which otherwise comprised a roster of fictional and player-created wrestlers. So right off the bat, the game robbed fans of the opportunity to live vicariously through their game console. But even the trailer for the game, with Hogan providing the narration and hokey characters delivering moves, didn’t do much to sell this title for X-Box Kinect. The reviews were not kind.
If you're still wondering what happened to Hulk Hogan's Grammy nod for the 1995 release of "Hulk Rules," you may be alone in that outrage. In 1995, Hogan was atop the roster for WCW, where he reunited with a lot of his former WWE pals, including Jimmy Hart. Hart laid claim to a successful recording career prior to getting into wrestling and had been instrumental in the WWE's albums of the 1980s, as well as composing ring music for a number of stars. Jimmy actually wrote most of the tracks for the record, which featured performances by Hulk, his wife Linda, and J.J. McGuire. Perhaps the best-known track from the album was "American Made," which Hogan used as his WCW ring theme.
What was interesting is that most every track on the album served as a different anthem to celebrate the man whose face was on the cover. It was an interesting collectible for wrestling fans, though it may not be enjoyed as much by connoisseurs of music.
When dealing with large corporate chains like Rent-A-Center, we don’t question the choices of NFL great Troy Aikman and WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan as suitable choices to represent their brand. However, we do believe that it speaks to the demographic that the marketing department for the company wants to reach and how they feel about the average wrestling fan. Hogan isn’t in front of consumers looking to pay top dollar for luxury goods, but instead those that maybe are on a meagre income and must make all of their big purchases on an installment basis – with an exit clause when they can’t pay up.
This “low rent” view of the typical wrestling fan has followed the industry for decades. However, when you consider the ticket prices for live events and the three-figure price tags for ringside seats these days, it’s safe to say that the demographic is shifting.
In the 1980s, we were pitched the notion that Hulk Hogan was immortal and that Hulkamania would live forever. So it was somewhat jarring to learn that the immortal one had become a pitchman for prostate health supplements. On one hand, it is great to see Hulk Hogan, one of the most macho sportsmen of his era, speaking out about the importance of prostate health, which continues to be a problem for men over 50 who refuse to take any preventive action. On the other hand, it also made us all feel old.
Those pre-teens who grew up on Hulk Hogan’s doctrine in the 1980s were now reaching an age where they needed to be concerned about these issues – so how old did that make our hero all of the sudden? It was a startling wake up call. What’s next -- Hogan endorsing denture creams for their grip as tight as a headlock in the grasp of the 24-inch pythons?
Hulk Hogan’s career was built on his image and it has also become one of the biggest targets for his rivals to draw upon. After headlining wrestling in the 1980s, tipping the scales at around 300 pounds, his arrival in WCW a decade later saw a much leaner Hulkster between the ropes – after he dropped 50 pounds and switched to long tights from trunks to help mask some of the changes in his shape. Jerry Lawler, taking a pot shot at Hogan once said “What a needle gave him, time has taken away,” alluding to Hogan’s steroid use during the ascent of his career. However, despite the mudslinging, we can’t deny that for a man in his 60s, Hogan is still in great shape and part of that he attributes to the use of Body by Vi products – appearing as a celebrity endorser and making occasional appearances at trade shows in support of the brand.
In any of the spotlight pieces we have ever seen about Hulk Hogan outside of the ring, we have seen a celebrity that has enjoyed the outdoors, but mostly in the realm of motor sports – motorcycles, speedboats, jet skis. The image of Hogan in hip-waders, though not that much taller than his patent leather wrestling boots, is not one that we readily attach to Hulkamania. Still, when the Shakespeare brand wanted to illustrate the durability of their advertised unbreakable fishing rod, who better to qualify that statement than a pro wrestler who boasted having the largest arms in the world and one of the few to slam the formidable Andre The Giant?
Though Shakespeare was not an upstart brand, generating attention to its edge in durability in contrast to its competition was the goal and Hogan achieved it. Luckily, Hogan wasn’t quoted in endorsement of a product that we’re quite sure that he never used in practice.
“A true artist should be remembered for his inspiration … not his perspiration.” In 1989, when Hulk Hogan’s ad for Right Guard antiperspirant appeared on television, it seemed that he was about to make the full-time transition from wrestling to Hollywood. He’d already had a few film projects under his belt and a number of TV cameos. In addition a new wave of superstars was coming up – Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior, and Ted DiBiase all stood as possible successors to his throne.
The commercials, showing Hogan at an easel, presumably showing off another talent of which the fans were unaware, were amusing. While the TV producers may have been trying to portray a refined side to Hogan in contrast to his brutish wrestling demeanor, the timing of the campaign seemed more to lampoon the notion of Hulk as a well-heeled actor on the verge of a major silver screen career.
Around the time of the first WrestleMania, Vince McMahon was seeing that his investment in his heavyweight champion was paying off. Endorsement offers that were usually limited to athletes in other pro sports were starting to come in for Hogan. During a time when tennis pro John McEnroe was featured as a spokesmodel for Nike, Hogan was signed to a deal with Footjoy. What is even more amusing about this campaign is the scripted language given to Hogan that appears in the print ad. While the verbiage includes a fair share of colorful wrestling tie-ins, the ad really comes across as Footjoy trying to defend their use of a pro wrestler to sell a tennis shoe, with repeated references to the court and language to justify Hogan as an authority on the performance of the shoes. Still, the image of Hulk Hogan with a tennis court in hand, crushing a masked foe inside a wrestling ring was sure to capture attention, and that’s the point, right?
Internet news sites around the world had rave reviews for the 2014 Radio Shack spot that appeared during the Super Bowl broadcast. In an ad that brought together some of the most iconic 1980s pop culture icons like Twisted Sister front man Dee Snider, and fictional characters Cliff Claven (John Ratzenberger) from Cheers and alien muppet Alf, the spot was intended to be an attention-getting ad to identify a corporate re-branding and refreshing of store decor across the country. Hulk’s inclusion in the spot, along with Sgt. Slaughter, speaks to the incredible impact that both of those characters had on the entertainment world during their prime.
Cast alongside some of the most memorable characters of our youth, Hogan fit in with the crowd. The effect of the ad, however, received conflicting reviews. An initial 12% jump in company stock the next day was later dismissed as the brand being a generation out of touch with the market.
Hulk Hogan had taken a few knocks in 2016 after a sex tape was released, spurring a lawsuit from Gawker. Of greater concern were some racist remarks made by Hogan on the tape, which resulted in the WWE releasing him from his contract and visibly distancing themselves from the multi-time WWE champion. While Hogan’s legal battle and $31 million settlement from Gawker dominated the news throughout the year, it wasn’t all bad news for Hulk. He was picked up for a series of radio and television ads for Loan Mart. It was appropriate as the Loan Mart brand has a mission to give customers a “second chance” with their credit.
Given his woes up to that time, Hogan was the ideal spokesman to illustrate someone deserving a second chance of his own. The deal, brokered through Rio Media, served to keep Hulk visible in a positive context in the public eye during one of the most visible battles of his life and career.
Even though Hulk Hogan was the franchise player upon whom Vince McMahon had to build his whole empire, he wasn’t the only WWE Superstar of the era to attract the curiosity of major brands. The first was Andre The Giant, who in 1987 was cast in a commercial for Honeycombs cereal. Seeing the visibility that Andre was getting, the persistent rumor is that Hulk Hogan decided he needed to get in on that action – and not be upstaged on endorsements by anyone else on the roster. Hulk was later featured in a spot for Honey Nut Cheerios. Interestingly, another cereal brand decided to use a caricature based on Hogan for their brand, without permission. Cocoa Pebbles ran a commercial years later with a Hogan-esque character billed as Terry Boulder (incidentally a name Hogan had used early in his career). There was legal action and the matter was settled out of court.
What’s interesting about this venture is that a wrestling organization featuring a roster entirely comprised of little people has been opened by a former full-sized wrestler Johnny Greene, who fans may remember from some televised appearances in WCW as Johnny Attitude. However, to attract the interest of television executives in 2011, Hulk Hogan’s name was added to the mix and suddenly the company became attractive for broadcast. The shows, which were filmed in Tampa, eventually did get picked up for a limited five-episode trial on truTV, but has since become a touring specialty act.
While Hogan’s name features prominently in the marketing of the brand, even the Wikipedia listing for this promotion simply lists Hogan’s involvement as being featured in some promotional videos. It didn’t achieve the same visibility as his earlier TV venture involving Hollywood and sports celebrities, though that venture only secured three more episodes on air.
Attaching the biggest name in professional wrestling to a new television product seemed like an obvious winner, or at least CMT thought so when they signed on for a season of Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling in 2008. The show was also picked up by networks in Australia and the UK. With the backing of Eric Bischoff and Jason Hervey, the eight-episode series included a cast of celebrities vying for the show’s championship and included an eclectic cast, such as 1980s teen pop star Tiffany, NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman, child actor Danny Bonaduce, professional boxer Butterbean, and Saved by the Bell's Dustin Diamond.
Split into two teams – one captained by Brutus Beefcake and the other by Brian Knobbs – cast members were eliminated weekly until a champion was crowned. Dennis Rodman emerged the victor. The series was not picked up for a second season.
Here is a product that makes sense to us. Hulk Hogan, long revered for his 24-inch pythons and his years of dedication in the gym, should have his face on a product that someone might use when attempting to follow in his footsteps. If not a whey protein product line, at least Hogan could have his likeness on the blender that aspiring superstars would use to mix their pre- and post-workout shakes. The Thunder Mixer, manufactured by Salton, retailed for approximately twenty bucks, but rated only 2.5 out of 5 in customer reviews on Amazon.
While you can still purchase the Hulk Hogan Thunder Mixer online, the feedback from previous users may recommend that you steer clear -- kinda the same advice we might give if you have stumbled upon a cache of Thunder in Paradise on VHS tape.
There is something that seems entirely out of place about a pre-cooked microwavable cheeseburger in the line-up of Hulk Hogan-endorsed goods. At the same time, there are definitely arguments that it could be one of the most appropriate product associations among all of the Hulkster’s side ventures. One review posed the query, “Whatcha gonna do when these saturated fats run wild on you?” Available at Wal-Mart and other outlets of a similar nature, reviews of the boxed four-pack of burgers that you can still find online go into comedic detail about how awful this product was, identifying pale-colored meat with fake grill marks that looked less appetizing than a similarly priced product from McDonald’s.
Still, one reviewer recommended that collectors go out to their local store and buy a package – suggesting that the box with Hogan’s image on it might be worth something later down the line.
There is an interesting story that accompanies Hulk Hogan’s journey to become the face of his own kitchen implement. Accounts vary, but the story goes that when Hogan decided to explore endorsements for kitchen appliances, his agent called him and pitched a few ideas. Among them was a grill and the other was a meatball maker. Hulk passed on the grill, directing his agent to pass that one along to another client and enthusiastically put his support behind the meatball machine. The grill endorsement went to George Foreman – perhaps you’ve heard of it. While you will be hard-pressed to find any Hulk Hogan Meatball Machines on the market, a grill endorsement did eventually come Hogan’s way, but in the meantime, he missed out on millions of dollars in royalties that he served up on a platter for the former world boxing champion. Who’s the meatball now, huh Hulk?
The development of the Hogan Energy drink was an idea that came together before television audiences as Hulk proposed it on-screen while shooting his family reality TV series, Hogan Knows Best. The product, initially pitched as “Hulk Energy,” never went to market under that name, instead hitting store shelves on the west coast in the United States in 2006 as Hogan Energy. At the time of the drink’s release, it was a featured product of Socko Energy, a rising player in the energy drink game. The drink was released in regular and sugar-free formats, but unlike Hulkamania, his energy drink brand was not immortal. Socko, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, continues to produce and distribute drinks, but the Hogan Energy drink is no longer advertised as part of their product line.
Had Hogan been inspired to attempt this product launch when he was still active in front of wrestling fans on a weekly basis, it may have had a better chance of success.
Probably the most logical product for Hulk Hogan to attach his name to was Hulk Hogan’s multi-vitamins. Produced while Hogan was still under contract with the WWE and reigning as champion, the print ads spotlight Hogan in the image that Vince McMahon had cultivated as a role model for youngsters. The champion’s credo of “training, saying your prayers and eating your vitamins” came together with this product. The multi-vitamin was carried by a number of major chains across the United States and Hogan was billed as the new champion of children’s chewables.
This early success for a product that fell outside of WWE’s marketing probably inspired much of the other items on this list. Considering all of the products that Hogan has been attached to over the years, just about the only thing we haven’t seen from Hogan is a prayer book to make up the trifecta of his 1980s message for youngsters.
If the sight of Hulk Hogan in a Hulkamania-branded chef’s hat seems over the top, let’s not forget the Hulkster’s cinematic masterpieces as Mr. Nanny or Suburban Commando. Hulk Hogan’s Pasta Mania debuted in the food court at the Mall of America in 1996 and marked Hogan’s first foray into the food industry. The franchise lasted less than a year, though it was in operation when WCW launched their live Monday Night show Nitro to run head-to-head with the WWE. Perhaps this early fumble as a restaurateur led him to be more cautious in his future endeavors in the hospitality industry.
In recent years, Hulk has opened Hogan’s Beach in Clearwater, Florida, just outside of Tampa. In addition to the restaurant, the tourist destination also includes a gift shop, a night club and events center that is more in line with the flamboyant brand that we have come to associate with The Hulkster.