Xbox Made a Soccer Documentary That Could Change a Real Team's Fortunes

The series breaks new ground for the brand while testing a gamer's skills on the field.

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Many impassioned sports fans watching a game from home may have harbored the secret suspicion that they could do better than the coach. What if they got the chance to prove it? 

Nathan Owolabi, a 23-year-old Londoner, is one such fan. He’s obsessed with soccer: watching it, working as a tour guide at Wembley Stadium and playing countless hours of soccer video games. But working for a professional league seemed a far-off goal—until Xbox helped him land his dream job. 

Owolabi won a contest sponsored by Xbox to join the staff of Bromley Football Club in south London as a support performance tactician. His task: can he apply the tactical skills he mastered as a gamer to a real-life team and help them become champions?

Xbox and agency McCann London are chronicling Owolabi’s unorthodox path into pro soccer through a new documentary series, The Everyday Tactician, whose first episode premieres today (March 22) on British channel TNT Sports. For the brand, this represents an expansion into long-form sports entertainment, while Bromley FC’s unusual approach to recruitment could help turn its fortunes. 

Xbox’s experiment began with a goal to expand beyond the brand’s typical demographic of “pure gamers,” Mohan Gehlot, senior global product manager, told ADWEEK. 

As it eyed a bigger audience, the brand was inspired by the growing appetite for sports documentaries. Series such as Netflix’s Beckham documentary or Welcome to Wrexham on FX have been big, populist hits. 

To venture into the genre, McCann came up with the idea to bring the skills many gamers have honed through Xbox’s Football Manager—in which players can virtually manage their own teams—into the real world.

Nathan Owolabi, Xbox
Nathan landed his dream job when he entered a contest sponsored by Xbox.Xbox, McCann London

Bromley FC was up for the challenge, agreeing to hire a gamer with no professional soccer experience. The team is ideal for this project because “they’re not too big or too small. The gamer can get insight into a professional club, but also be at a place where they can have a real impact,” explained Jim Nilsson, creative director at McCann London. 

Xbox and Bromley FC opened the contest in November, coinciding with the release of Football Manager 2024. The club’s manager, Andy Woodman, announced the job opening at a press conference. 

The candidates went through a staged interview process with Woodman and the rest of the team’s management, who finally hired Owolabi. He started the job earlier this year.

Xbox The Everyday Tactician
Nathan had to interview with the team’s manager before putting his gaming skills to the test.Xbox, McCann London

“It’s a big learning curve for him, but he’s settling in well,” Nilsson said.

A win for the team and brand

The three-part documentary series will follow Owolabi and the team’s experience over the rest of the season. The episodes introduce viewers to his family, friends, the staff at Bromley FC and its community of fans while putting Owolabi’s skills to the test. 

For Bromley FC, the documentary comes at a crucial point as it vies for promotion to a higher league (the team is currently in the National League, the lowest division in the English nationwide soccer pyramid) and tries to widen its fan base. In January, the club set a target of achieving a total of 30,000 fans attending matches at its home stadium, Hayes Lane, across the remainder of the 2023/24 season. 

A partnership with a brand as big as Xbox, with the budget to fund a TV series and marketing campaign, could help the club achieve that goal—just as the Welcome to Wrexham documentary brought more fans to a similarly modest team. 

Xbox Bromley FC
This project could prove beneficial to Bromley FC, a small team trying to enter the big leagues.Xbox, McCann London

Meanwhile, for Xbox, the series “breaks new ground for us in long-form content,” said Gehlot. Though owner Microsoft released its ‘Power of One: The Story of Xbox’ documentary series online in 2021, the brand has not yet ventured into the sports documentary genre. 

Xbox follows a wider marketing trend of brands making their own TV shows or films as attention shrinks from traditional advertising. The likes of Nike, WhatsApp and Lucozade have also produced sports documentaries, with varying degrees of success. 

Gehlot said Xbox has already “seen a substantial uplift in usage” and “new people enter the game” since it launched The Everyday Tactician competition. 

And, he added, Xbox’s entertainment ambitions won’t stop here, as it explores projects in other sports and countries: “We’re keen to progress in this space.” 

As for Owolabi, if he is successful and helps Bromley FC make it to the finals with his gaming tactics, he could go from working as a tour guide at Wembley Stadium to being behind a team playing on its storied field.

 “This is a dream come true for him,” Nilsson said. 

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