In the mid-1980s, the phenomenon known as Hulkamania was in full force. Professional wrestling may have been a faux sport, but it was big business, and no one was bigger than the man with bleach-blonde hair and a fake tan, Hulk Hogan. He earned multiple the WWF/WWE and WCW championships, acted in Rocky III and quickly became recognized as more than just an entertainer – he was a marketing force to be reckoned with.
Among his dozens of promotional efforts, Hogan (born Terry Bollea) was enlisted by Shakespeare to endorse their fishing rods, in particular members of the Ugly Stik family. The company had introduced the Ugly Stik in 1976 and it continues to sell well today.
This advertisement from 1986 shows the Hulkster flexing his (chemically enhanced?) pecs as well as an Ugly Stik Lite, a rod based on the original Ugly Stik but said to weigh less. No mention is made of Hogan’s fishing skill, or even whether he’s ever fished before – his sole purpose is to show that the rod is “a match for the sensational Hulk Hogan, World Wrestling Federation Champion!”
While Hogan’s presence in the Shakespeare ads gradually faded away, he didn’t disappear from the world of bass fishing altogether. In 2008, FLW Outdoors made Hogan (with a shirt this time) the celebrity spokesman for FLW Fantasy Fishing.
According to Irwin Jacobs (in a release on FLW’s website), “With Hulk Hogan on board, professional and recreational fishing is ready to experience unprecedented growth….He is the perfect person to represent FLW Outdoors’ new $7.3 million fantasy fishing game.” According to that same release, Hogan was set to appear at various FLW events that year and author articles and podcasts related to fantasy fishing.
Once again, no mention was made of whether Hogan actually fished.