Effective comms help FXFL get a foothold

FXFL, a new professional developmental football league, ran a campaign to introduce itself and establish public support and a fan base for its games

Client: FXFL (New York)
Agency: 5W Public Relations (New York) Campaign: FXFL Launch
Duration: May - October 2014
Budget: $60,000

FXFL is a new professional developmental football league. The organization and 5W Public Relations, its AOR for PR, ran a campaign to introduce the league in June and establish public support and a fan base for its games, which began in October.

"It was critical for us to build awareness about why a developmental league was needed rather than just announcing the creation of a new league," explains FXFL commissioner Brian Woods. "It was also very important to establish ourselves as complimentary to the NFL and ensure that people understood that FXFL was not going to have an antagonistic relationship with the NFL. We needed to communicate how the FXFL will operate and how it would be different from previously launched and failed leagues."

A rolling approach that included the launch of FXFL.com, national and regional media relations, social media engagement, and outreach at games drove messaging.

FXFL.com launched in early May with information about the league and the types of players and coaches it sought. It was later populated with team information, player rosters, game schedules and scores, practice game videos, and more.

5W pitched traditional media outlets and blogs focused on sports as well as some business and general consumer outlets.

"When we announced the league to national media in June, we focused on explaining why the league was needed and how it would operate," says agency account supervisor Mike Paffmann. "Outreach became regionally and community focused once team identities, branding, and locations were established."

The four FXFL teams and their logos were announced in July via press release and on FXFL’s website and Facebook and Twitter pages.

The team released news of an ESPN streaming contract and local market TV station deals as they unfolded. 

Initial outreach on Twitter included posts asking football fans to weigh in on where they wanted to see FXFL teams established. As the campaign progressed, FXFL’s handle and individual team handles were used to highlight news, such as newly signed players, game information, and practice game images and videos.

Media were invited to attend practice games in Brooklyn and Omaha on September 26.

Eric Adams, borough president of Brooklyn, introduced the Brooklyn Bolts to media and the public on the steps of Borough Hall on October 14 (the day before the first game).

The agency managed media interviews with Woods, players, coaches, and referees at all games and distributed various FXFL marketing materials.

News that Nivea Men had signed on as the primary league sponsor was released at the end of September.

More than 20,000 total tickets were sold to the eight games played between mid-October and December. Woods notes the overall number was a little above first-year expectations.

Though the FXFL will retain ownership of all teams, the campaign sparked team ownership inquiries in multiple markets, including New York, Boston, and Miami.

The campaign also prompted more than 1,000 inquiries from players and agents, though Woods notes 98% of players were drafted from NFL training camps.

Overall, 8 million impressions were garnered on Twitter.

Paffmann notes team announcements drove organic creation of multiple consumer-generated hashtags that trended on Twitter and Facebook.

More than 100 earned stories (nearly 200 million impressions) ran in outlets including AP, CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, Colbert Report, The Omaha World-Herald, Boston Globe, and Miami Herald.  

Woods notes earned coverage helped attract the Nivea Men sponsorship.

Though the team will continue to drive national stories ahead of the league’s second season, Woods wants to emphasize driving local market buzz around individual teams.

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