Toronto Wolfpack selects LP/AD as AOR

The agency will lead marketing and help drive ticket sales as the team enters the top tier of the U.K. Rugby Football League.

Professional rugby team Toronto Wolfpack is heading into the 2020 season with Toronto-based LP/AD as its first agency of record.

The shop will lead communications, marketing strategy and creative for the team, which will play its first season in the Rugby Football League’s Super League division in the U.K. in 2020, the most competitive level of play outside of Australia. The team’s promotion and recent signing of rugby star Sonny Bill Williams has “created an opportunity and accelerated interest in the team both domestically and internationally,” according to a press release.

“Now that we’ve reached this top level of sport within the rugby league, how can we continue to take it to the next level, but not without losing what got us there in the first place, which is more grassroots, word-of-mouth marketing through our fans,” says Jeff Aylen, head of marketing for Toronto Wolfpack.

LP/AD’s mandate includes helping drive revenue from ticket sales, team merchandise and “other monetization opportunities,” as well as shape the overall team brand and attract new fans.

It is currently working under a fast-tracked timeline aimed at having assets ready for early in the new year, Aylen says. Though the season starts Feb. 2, the team will play in the U.K. for the first two months of the season. A bigger marketing push is being planned around its home opener at Toronto’s Lamport Stadium on April 18.

In the lead-up to its 2017 debut, the team and its owner, David Argyle, worked with McCann Canada to develop its branding and logo. Since then, with the exception of a few small project assignments handled by LP/AD, the bulk of its work had been led internally by a team of less than ten staffers.

“Once you get to this level, we needed somebody to come in and help us amplify the messaging that we had done in previous seasons, and be an extension of our overall team, not just an agency, but a real partner,” Aylen says. “We didn’t want necessarily just a big marketing agency that was just in it to win awards… We wanted somebody who could come on board and help strengthen our DNA and have a real impact in shaping the overall brand, because we’re at that stage, where we are a blank slate in some regards.”

LP/AD, which opened an office in San Francisco last month (headed by Sasha Zaprudska, who was named a partner in March), has previously done work in professional sports with the Toronto Raptors. It also has experience in the CBD space, having worked with Folium Labs on a daily multivitamin for cannabis users. That experience could prove helpful in bringing Rugby Strength, a line of CBD products launched in May by Wolfpack subsidiary HowlBrands, to the Canadian market next year.

Photos by Mathew Tsang, courtesy of Toronto Wolfpack.