Who’d have thought that football (for those not in the know, real soccer) would draw some superstars into its claws?
Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney's purchase of Wrexham AFC, the world's third-oldest football club, may have seemed like a questionable investment at first. The team is in the fifth division of the English football pyramid and has almost no chance (read: no chance!) of making it to the Premier League. However, the duo's genius move was not about Premier League promotion at all, but rather about creative storytelling and a touch of marketing B2B genius.
Wrexham is owned by the fans, so Reynolds and McElhenney met with over 2,000 supporters in 2020 and made an offer to buy the club. They even agreed to invest approximately $2.5 million in the club's players and facilities and signed a 25-year stadium lease in Wrexham so that the fans knew they wouldn't move the team. But the real play was a "Netflix-style" docuseries that tracked their purchase, investment in the club, and the team's journey back to prominence.
The show, "Welcome to Wrexham," debuted on FX and Hulu in August and received 8.2/10 stars on IMDb. It was immediately greenlit for season two, and the club more than likely made some good money on the deal. The increased attention turned into tangible revenue, and Wrexham AFC signed sponsorship deals with several companies like TikTok, Expedia, Vistaprint, and even Aviation American Gin, which is Ryan Reynolds' own brand.
Additionally, the number of fans buying season tickets has nearly tripled, and the team's social media accounts have exploded, showing massive growth across Twitter, Instagram, and even TikTok. This increased exposure provided the club with global reach, something they would have never achieved before. Wrexham's FA Cup qualifier versus the Blyth Spartans even aired on ESPN2 & ESPN+, making it available to over a hundred million households globally.
Overall, this is the perfect example of someone taking a local sports asset and using strategic marketing and creative media to make it global. Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney may have paid $2.5 million for the world's third-oldest football club, but they have turned it into a massive success both on and off the pitch. And let's be honest, who doesn't want to watch Deadpool and Mac from Always Sunny own a football club?
Article written by Brian Fence
Thought Leadership by Simon Moore