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Why is this work relevant for Media?

With the Premier League dominating headlines, and after a year of closed stadiums, the Vanarama National League was being left behind. Ahead of the new season, we needed to break beyond the VNL’s loyal but small fan base, which meant being smart about media.

By anonymously erecting a 10-metre high, specially-built sign, the VNL used physical space to spark a nationwide whodunnit. This non-traditional approach to outdoor advertising resulted in widespread coverage for the league and record match attendances for the new season.


The Vanarama National League (VNL) is the lowest tier of professional football in England. The pandemic hit the league hard as stadiums closed, meaning no fans and no revenue. With the new season approaching, the VNL was in desperate need of some attention to ensure fans returned.

During the cancellations of VNL games, the money-laden Premier League had enjoyed a “record-breaking season” with 40% of the UK tuning into the action. The thousands of light fans who provide the bulk of the VNL’s audience had gone elsewhere.

With vastly inferior resources to the Premier League, we needed a show-stopping stunt that would go beyond just loyal VNL fans and connect with the wider football community. And in the process, remind them when the new season started to guarantee the VNL came back with a bang.

Describe the creative idea / insights

Encouraging English football fans, who had been fed limitless Premier League coverage for 18 months, to care about individual fixtures like Chesterfield vs Wealdstone was never going to have the impact we needed. We needed a real-world stunt that would gain disproportionate media attention.

Our opportunity arose when tinseltown duo Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney took over at Wrexham FC, the longest-serving club in the Vanarama National League. Given their reputation for marketing mischief, the media and fans were waiting to see what they would do next. We saw an opportunity to create a star-studded whodunnit that would capture the imagination. We just needed the right media moment to spark things off.

In the middle of a summer’s night, six days ahead of the first VNL fixtures, we erected a giant 10-metre high Hollywood-style sign saying WREXHAM on the top of Bersham Bank, the famous slag heap overlooking Wrexham.

Describe the strategy

The VNL has a loyal, but small fan base. Our focus was the thousands of more fans who provide the majority of the VNL’s revenue, but often get their football fix elsewhere.

Given how swiftly football news moves, we knew an online-first approach would disappear quickly. We needed something that existed in the real world, something impactful and accessible to guarantee the message spread organically.

So our strategy was to install our sign in the most visible place in Wrexham and then to…do nothing, letting the media and football fans speculate over who might be responsible.

Then with the nation gripped by our Hollywood whodunnit, we augmented the sign to reveal that the culprits were the VNL, interrupting the Premier League’s media dominance and reminding football fans that the new season was just around the corner.

Describe the execution

On day one, the media arrived at our specially-built, 10-metre sign as planned to interview selfie-hunting locals as they attempted to figure out who might be responsible. Naturally, speculation centred around Ryan Reynolds. But after he tweeted “I wish I’d thought of that”, journalists were left stumped.

Before the big reveal, we added elements to the stunt to keep the story going. Characters from Wrexham FC and the local council were introduced. Searchlights made sure the sign could be seen at night. Fake security guys kept the new tourists in check.

Then it was time for the reveal. On day six, we rolled out a giant banner above the sign saying VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE SEASON PREMIERE AUGUST 21. And every major outlet in the UK had to finish the story for their audience, including a reminder about the new season.

List the results

The campaign had a total reach of 570m+ from outlets such as The Times, Mail Online and Mashable. This included multiple reports from BBC and ITV News, both of which covered the reveal moment live on TV. Culminating in a total earned media value of £500k+.

Locals loved it too, as the sign drew in tourists from miles around. One local artist used the sign as the subject for a painting, with the BBC even citing it as a reason Wrexham could be crowned City of Culture 2025!

And after a year of no fans and no revenue, match attendances were a whopping 38% higher than pre-pandemic, comfortably setting a new all-time attendance record. This is especially impressive when considering that the Premier League, with its increase in viewership during lockdowns, only has a 6% rise.

All on a budget of under £30,000 with no media spend.

Please provide budget details

Total budget:



“WREXHAM” Hollywood font giant letter production - £6,174.00

Framework - £6,125.00

Installation and de-rig - £9,272.00

Production of Vanarama sign (for reveal) - £1,450.00

Drone photography and video - £400.00

Spotlights - £300.00

Security team - £250.00

Land owners payment - £2,500.00

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