Social & Influencers

Why the Baltimore Ravens brought comedian Stavros Halkias’s ‘Ronnie’ character to an NFL game

The comedian's crass, Baltimore-inspired character showed that NFL social teams can let their hair down.
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Baltimore Ravens

4 min read

On New Year’s Eve, the Baltimore Ravens clinched the top spot in their conference. In theory, this grants the team the easiest path to the Super Bowl. Yet the news was briefly eclipsed by the in-stadium appearance of Ronnie, a brash and beefy caricature of Maryland’s, uh, crustier sports fans.

Ronnie, a character performed and created by the Baltimore-born comedian Stavros Halkias, has given a postgame analysis of every Ravens game since at least 2021 in the form of Instagram posts, where he has 660,000 followers. The video, however, was posted to the Ravens’ official social accounts, and was delivered on the field of M&T Bank Stadium.

“Look where we are, yo. Finally, Ronnie is gettin’ the respect he deserves in this city,” he says into the camera, before sharing that his professional football career was derailed after he threatened a high school quarterback with a “makeshift, homemade weapon.”

While that particular video is relatively clean by Ronnie’s standards, the post was eyebrow-raising for the sheer fact that an official account belonging to a professional football team was willing to work with a comedian slash influencer who is sex-positive, crass, and outspoken.

He’s a hometown hero, Garrett Downing, director of social media for the Baltimore Ravens, told Marketing Brew. “He’s a diehard Ravens fan…He’s somebody that our fans love, and he loves our team. So it made too much sense. Of course, we had a conversation just to make sure that everybody felt good about it,” he said.

The videos featuring Ronnie generated 5.5 million views and at least 10 million impressions, according to Downing, with the pregame video as the team’s most popular X post that day, which is even more impressive considering the Ravens walloped the Dolphins 56-19.

“When we showed him on the video boards at the end of the game, he got a roaring cheer,” Downing said, adding that Ronnie’s appearance was “incredibly well-received.”

The team has recently worked with influencers like YouTuber Deestroying, Real Housewives of Potomac star Robyn Dixon, and Peloton instructor Denis Morton. The team’s owned channels “only reach X amount of followers,” Katie Bollinger, marketing and fan development director for the Ravens who oversees influencer relationships, explained. Conversations to bring Halkias on board began as early as September. “We frequently wait for him to post…we’ve been fans for awhile,” Bollinger said. She added that the team sent him a custom Ronnie jersey after he nearly sold out six shows at The Lyric in Baltimore.

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Though the Ravens are valued at $4.6 billion, according to Forbes, every opportunity to reach a new fan is valuable. Data showed the team that, on Instagram, between Halkias’s account and its own, 99% of Halkias’s followers weren’t following the Ravens, she said.

Some of those followers could become casual fans who could eventually buy a Ravens hat, a jersey, and perhaps one day, a ticket to a game.

“We spent a lot of time talking about the avid fan versus the casual fan and the influencer piece is a real play to the casual fan,” Downing said.

Notably, the Ronnie content posted to the Ravens’ account is clean. “That was intentional,” Garrett said. A different clip posted to his own account is a bit bolder. Previously, Halkias has described the character as a stereotype of a type of “boorish, racist sports fan.”

When a corporate social strategy can feel uptight and awkward, leaning on a creator like Halkias, whose work as a comedian is largely free from corporate red tape (uh, don’t Google his previous podcast), can still be successful. Halkias did not respond to a request for comment. (This reporter subscribes to Halkias’s Patreon.)

Football fans have a sense of humor, after all.

“That’s kind of what made Sunday really a special moment because he’s been doing this all year long…He is doing it on his own but now when you have this chance for the two of us to come together and actually collaborate, I thought that was just a massive win for both of us,” said Downing.

This year’s Ravens team is pretty good. Could we see Ronnie again? Perhaps at the Super Bowl?

“We haven’t talked about it, but if he’s willing, and we’re willing to come up with some good content ideas, I don’t see why not,” Bollinger said.

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