How ‘Rocket League’ is helping AC Milan build its ‘Brand of the Future’
Last week, the legendary soccer club AC Milan teamed up with rocket league to launch a new shirt both physically and digitally. Just as AC Milan fans around AC Milan has teamed up with rocket league to launch a new shirt, both physically and digitally, as fans around the world can purchase the limited edition jersey. The shirt is designed to showcase the club's iconic red and black vertical stripes, which have been worn since its founding in 1899. However, there is a tension between brand identity and innovation, and AC Milan’s director of revenue, Casper Stylsvig, discussed this with Forbes to discuss the importance of innovative products such as the T-shirt and the rocket league sticker. He said that 60% of sales to customers located located in Milan were to the global AC Milan, which was ranked as the 14th most valuable football club in the world.
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Last week, the legendary soccer club AC Milan teamed up with rocket league to launch a new shirt both physically and digitally. Just as AC Milan fans around the world can purchase the limited edition jersey, rocket league Players can snag signature looks as decals for the most popular cars in the game.
AC Milan jerseys are among the most iconic in the sporting world. Red and black vertical stripes have graced the football club’s home shirt since its founding in 1899 and earned the club its nickname, the Rossoneri, translated from Italian as the “Reds and Blacks”.
But with sacrosanct appearance comes a tension between brand identity and innovation, and no one is more aware of this balance than AC Milan’s director of revenue, Casper Stylsvig, who sat down with Forbes to discuss why rocket league and the release of a limited edition kit are the definitive vehicles for building the AC Milan brand around the world.
“This is the ultimate proof of the convergence between sport, entertainment, gaming, fashion and lifestyle – they all intersect,” said Stylsvig, “To be able to do that in a game as popular as rocket league it’s something we’re very, very proud of… We like to say we want to think differently, we want to do things differently and we want to be different…
Ultimately, it’s all about capturing and sharing the attention of fans. Not just our fans, but soccer fans of all stripes… [Through Rocket League] we are catering on a global scale, on a massive platform, to a younger audience. This is something that we really believe we can pride ourselves on being a truly innovative club.”
Stylsvig was joined by Rebel Ventures CEO Craig Howe, who added: “When you look at the younger generations, it really isn’t just about wins and losses and Metacritic scores. If you’re looking at games, it’s about how interesting those brands are, those games, how they’re creative, how they’re innovative. What makes you want to discover something new?
You are looking at one of the most successful football clubs in history, but they are always striving to grow as a brand and reach another level. And it really fits amazingly well with rocket league, who do their best to serve their passionate fan base, but are always looking to grow and reach new players. So I think in that sense it’s kind of a really strong partnership.”
Phil Piliero, VP, Psyonix Co-Studio Head stated: “AC Milan’s vision to reimagine their iconic red and black design in a digital way on their latest kit was an excellent choice to bring to rocket league. At its core, our game is a reinvention of the game of football (or soccer), and having the opportunity to work side by side with AC Milan, PUMA and KOCHÉ to bring the AC Milan brand inside. rocket league it was fantastic. Since launch, we’ve seen tons of rocket league Fans are showing their support for AC Milan in-game and are excited to reach out to AC Milan fans with a whole new way to express their loyalty to the club in-game. rocket league passed.”
MILAN, ITALY – FEBRUARY 26: Theo Hernandez of AC Milan celebrates after his shot is deflected off… [+] Juan Musso’s goal from Atalanta BC (not pictured), resulting in AC Milan’s first goal, during the Serie A match between AC MIlan and Atalanta BC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on February 26, 2023 in Milano, Italy. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
While the on-pitch action for the new jersey is limited to the team’s February 26 win over Atalanta, the sleek kit has all but sold out. Stylsvig said Forbes that 60% of sales were to customers located outside of Italy, and 20% of sales were to the US, highlighting the global reach of AC Milan, which was ranked by Forbes in 2022 as the 14th most valuable football club in the world.
For Stylsvig, the actual sales figures for the T-shirt (and the rocket league sticker) are less important than showing that a 124-year-old club can still innovate: “It’s not just a trick to get people to buy more products. Because we can’t fool the consumer today and that’s not the thinking behind it. But I think it should be seen as an innovative club. Our ultimate goal is to get the club back to where it used to be, which is why we lost our way, probably for a decade and now the club is coming back, being in the Champions League quarter-finals, which is our natural goal. habitat.
But it’s telling our story, the story of our brand, being interesting to both consumers and other brands about what they can use AC Milan for. And then also making sure that we cater to as many different people, as many different fans as possible. That is absolutely key for us.”
The AC Milan fourth kit is inspired by pixel-art.
The AC Milan brand reflects the city of Milan itself and the announcement of the shirt, designed in collaboration with Paris-based fashion label Koché, coincided with the renowned Milan Fashion Week. Previously, AC Milan partnered with Epic Games along with 23 other clubs to offer their iconic jersey as Fortnite skin, but it’s the combination of fashion and play that sets its rocket league launch of the association apart from other digital efforts of the club.
“We’re based in Milan, which is the fashion capital of the world,” Stylsvig said, “so when you have this fine line between fashion, sports and gaming nowadays, people tend to be football fans.” , but they are also fashionistas and game fans… A lot of clubs are launching their fourth kit, but a lot of the launches are disappearing into all the noise and that’s why you want to stand out. seen as trendsetters here, that we’re ahead of the curve here. We don’t want to copy other clubs. We like to do things our own way and I think that’s much more important than a few more marketing dollars going down that road.”
When asked where he hopes to see AC Milan in the digital space ten years from now, Stylsvig shared that this launch “is the first step of something very interesting that we are cooking up right now. I can say that we are approaching not just the gaming space, but broader, because we see ourselves as a brand, not necessarily just a football club…
But definitely, we will be very innovative in the way that we communicate, in how we move forward. And maybe a little braver too. Because all football clubs, including AC Milan, are very careful in the way we do it and I think using other platforms we can be a little more courageous.”
The AC Milan fourth kit was designed in collaboration with the Paris-based brand KOCHÉ.
“When you have a city like Milan,” Howe added, “which is known around the world as sort of the epicenter of fashion, obviously fashion is something that comes to mind. It’s just that this club has a truly unique opportunity to create a global footprint in culture… not that this partnership could have worked with any football club. I think a lot of thought has gone into what AC Milan represents historically as a football club and as a brand for the future.”
“Definitely,” agreed Stylsvig, “a brand of the future is absolutely key because, as a company, we must continue to grow. We have been around for almost 125 years but we need to change with the world, which is absolutely key for us.”
AC Milan wheels and the new fourth kit decal are available to purchase for both the Octane and Dominus until March 21. For more information, please refer to the official announcements of rocket league and AC Milan.