Whizzy Rascal: Remembering some of Warrington’s marketing stunts

James Gordon
Whizzy Rascal

Warrington have built a reputation over the past few years for their marketing stunts and they tried another ahead of their game with Castleford on Sky.

The so-called ‘Whizzy Rascal’ – basically a kid in a ride on mini car – drove across the half way line before kick-off to supposedly deliver the ball.

After driving to one side of the pitch and back, without dropping off the ball, Wolves mascot Wolfie was forced to step in.

It was a great sponsorship activation for long-time stadium partners Halliwell Jones, a BMW car dealership in the town.

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The footage on Sky’s Twitter had more than 550,000 views, and had been shared on several other platforms; including by popular BBC Radio 1 DJ Greg James.

Warrington’s social media was typically primed to jump on the attention that it got too.

The Wire Flyer

Back in 2019, Warrington unveiled the so-called ‘Wire Flyer’ – an apparently fast runner in a green morph suit.

The challenge was to beat him over 200 metres, and it gained notoriety, attracting some famous competitors.

Dr Koukash, Robbie Hunter-Paul, new Channel 4 rugby league presenter Adam Hills and former England footballer Stuart Pearce were among those that had a go.

The identity of the Wire Flyer was also speculated upon for several weeks, before being revealed as former Wolves winger Kevin Penny.

Pie Smash

Chris Sandow (remember him?) was star of the show in the Wolves blockbuster ‘The Big Pie Smash’, geared to promote a game against Wigan.

It somewhat backfired though – Warrington lost 28-0 to the Warriors in what was Sandow’s debut.

Wigan coach Shaun Wane said: “I thank the Warrington marketing department for doing my job for me. A few of the players thought it was a bit disrespectful.”

Still, at least the crowd hit five-figures – 10,095 watched at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

A promo ahead of a fixture between the same two clubs in 2019 saw Wolfie going to see some sights in Wigan; slightly more mellow but effective nonetheless.

Wolfie ejected from Saints-Wigan derby

At the start of the 2019 season, Wolfie caused a ruckus at the Totally Wicked Stadium when he turned up at the season opener between St Helens and Wigan.

He was marched out of the ground by St Helens security staff, and Sky Sports were clearly in on the stunt too.

It came off the back of the spygate scandal in football involving Leeds United.

Pink shorts tease

Wolfie was certainly busier than usual in the 2019 season.

In a game at Wakefield, he decided to mimic Wakefield forward David Fifita.

The Wolves survived a fightback from Wakefield to hold on and win the game 34-32.

Fifita even scored a late try, and ended the match by wrestling Wolfie to the ground – all in good nature.

I sat down with Wolves marketing guru Adam Leah back in 2019 to discuss Wolfie’s activities.

Three-eyed fish

Warrington pushing the boundaries with their marketing isn’t a new phenomenon either.

Back in 2003, ahead of the last ever derby at Wilderspool, they sparked controversy with a promo poster of the clash against Widnes.

It featured belching clouds of smoke, a barrel of toxic waste and a three-eyed fish.

What was meant to be a light-hearted dig at their neighbouring town, didn’t go down well with some.

Vikings spokesman Andrew Kirchin said at the time: “I do find it objectionable and also inaccurate, because Widnes hasn’t had a chemical industry for 10 years, but it could be more serious than that.

Warrington eventually apologised – and unfortunately it didn’t have the desired effect attendance wise either.

A 9,300 sell-out was hoped for, but only 6,902 turned out to see the Wolves win 30-16.

Whatever you make of the stunts like Whizzy Rascal, it’s good to see a club doing what it can to think outside the box and push the boundaries to get more attention.

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