Atlanta United’s Julian Gressel was named MLS Rookie of the Year in 2017.

Gresselmania: The brand has endeared itself to Atlanta United fans on field and internet

Gresselmania is more than just a nickname.

Atlanta United’s Julian Gressel is as versatile on social media as he is on the field for the reigning MLS champs.

In the offseason, he and his wife, Casey, started a business, Gresselmania LLC, and he recently launched a website of the same name that features a blog.

As with his other efforts on Twitter (11,600 followers @JulianGressel) personalized videos, Instagram (26,100 followers at jgressel24) and Facebook, Gressel wants to use the blog to strengthen the relationship with the team’s fans. He feels he shares a special relationship with supporters. The work, he thinks, will naturally improve his brand.

“I think fans are looking for that kind of stuff, especially our fans being engaged with the club and community,” he said. “I feel I’ve had that connection with them from that start and want to pay back a bit how I feel. If it’s something they don’t like obviously they shouldn’t read it.

“I just want to be natural and be as normal as possible and connect with the fans. If that helps my brand, great.”

The blog has two entries: a welcome and his thoughts on the Champions League. Gresselmania, a riff on Wrestlemania, was coined by the team’s supporters during Gressel’s first season in 2017 that finished with him being named the rookie of the year. 

He has endeared himself with his production (11 goals and 28 assists), willingness to play any position (he’s started six) and his engagement on social media and at community events.

After deciding to start the website, the Gressel team, which includes his agent and a marketing group, discovered that the domain name Gresselmania was claimed by some of Atlanta United’s supporters. Negotiations ensued. The website, with the blog, launched a few weeks ago.

The blog is maintained by his agent. Gressel does the writing. Casey handles the editing because, a native of Germany, Gressel said he speaks English better than he writes. He said it leads to interesting discussions. You likely won’t see anything about politics or religion. Gressel said he will likely stick to sports and things about the team. Atlanta United is aware of the blog. It has taken a hands-off approach.

Gressel attended three MLS workshops on how to take advantage of social media, with dos and don’ts, all held during his rookie year. Though some of the presentation was about the potential negative effects social media can have on a player’s reputation and brand, Gressel said his biggest takeaway was how being positive on social media could have that effect. He was asked by the league after his rookie season to speak to the next class on how to use social media.

In addition to content, Gressel hopes to sell retail off the site, likely starting with T-shirts that he would like to design. He majored in management and minored in finance at Providence. Casey majored in accounting, has an MBA from Providence and is a CPA, so, along with his agent and marketing group, they have good ideas what they may do.

“It’s definitely something that’s in the early state and hopefully will continuously grow,” he said. “Never know where my career will take me, but that stuff always travels well if we set it up well.”

Of Atlanta United’s players, Gressel is the only one to have his own blog and to post personalized videos with messages ranging from Happy Birthday to random words in German for $50 for a 30-second spot. It started at $25. He doesn’t think the price will surpass $50. He has filmed 75 since starting last summer.

“That’s the modern player, I think,” said teammate Jeff Larentowicz, who has no presence on social media. “It’s the way it is. If Julian were in another profession in 2019, and he weren’t pushing himself on social media, it would be interesting. You’d say, he’s doing something good maybe he can turn that into something else.”

Gressel said he spends a lot of time with his myriad interests, but he always puts the team and game first. Larentowicz said he never worries about that with Gressel.

“Most important thing for me is the field,” Gressel said. “Whenever it comes to that, this has to wait. If I don’t produce on the field, all that stuff is worth nothing.”

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