The power of storytelling: How Wrexham AFC rose from the ashes

The power of storytelling: How Wrexham AFC rose from the ashes

Ben Brigham

Ben Brigham

In September 2020, Wrexham AFC, a little-known Welsh football team, burst onto the mainstream when out of the blue they were bought by an unexpected duo. They were playing in the fifth and lowest tier of the English football league system at the time, having suffered decades of neglect and decline. The duo in question were world-famous movie star Ryan Reynolds, and (as the joke goes) his lesser-known TV-star sidekick, Rob McElhenney.

This month they secured their promotion to League One, their second successive promotion, putting them in the third tier and back on the map of relevance. On the pitch then, there is no denying their success. But perhaps more impressive is their explosion from irrelevance to a globally recognised football club with the world at its feet. The tremendous marketing effort, that jumped into gear the second they were bought, has been central to their meteoric rise.

From obscurity to global fame

When looking at the numbers, the growth in just those 4 years has been mind blowing. On X they have seen their followers rise from 45k in 2020 to over 580k today – an increase of nearly 1,200%. When looking at TikTok, it’s even more impressive, going from not even having an account at the time of the takeover, to having over 1.5 million followers today – numbers that dwarf many Premier League teams playing in the most-watched league in the world.

Much of this growth came from their docu-series, “Welcome to Wrexham”, which went out to audiences all over the world. This generated the club $3.2m from TV deals for the first season alone – an insane amount of money for a club of that size, given the average budget for a team for a whole year of operations is just over £2m.

The series followed all the trials and tribulations of the new owners trying to navigate the “soccer” world – from business deals, to interactions with the fans, and of course performance on the pitch. However, it was about much more than that, instead telling a compelling story of a hard-working and passionate former industrial town, bound together by their football team, dreaming of one day getting back to former glories.

It contained interviews with everyday people across the town telling their own stories and where their connection to the team fit in. In many ways it was this that the audience bought into and what made Wrexham become a globally recognised brand.

Find your story

So, what can we take from all of this? As to be fair, not many companies out there have Hollywood actors to rely on to increase their exposure – or a sport-related underdog story to get behind.

It’s all about stories.

Every company has a story that it can tell the world. This could be anything from brand stories and customer testimonials to employee stories, however what is key is to always have this story in mind and have it as the glue that sticks any comms strategy in place.

Through a story, companies can build an emotional connection with potential customers, build trust with stakeholders, and stand out from the crowd – all of which will ultimately lead to driving long-term sustainable growth and a solid reputation.

This emotional connection can be the difference between making it or not, particularly when times are tough. Wrexham, through their powerful storytelling has exponentially grown their fan base – even to the point where fans are now travelling thousands of miles to watch a game and if lucky, meet some of the players.

With this incredible marketing push behind it, and countless people buying into the prospect of their success, their momentum seems unstoppable – and we could see them back at the very top of the football world sooner than we think.

So, what’s your story?

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