Forbes: Milan demonstrate weight of ‘reputational capital’ – Vercellone explains the vision

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan have not had it easy on and off the field over the past few years, but things are trending in the right direction and the club stand to prove that an old theory is true.

Forbes writes how the pandemic has hit the football world hard in the past two years with UEFA itself has estimated the losses in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons at €9bn, which means that the sport as a whole is experiencing a turning point from a socio-economic perspective.

What can help during this uncertain upcoming period reputational capital, which is actually becoming an increasingly tangible resource when capturing the attention and imagination of the new generation of fans.

This is where Milan come in. The Rossoneri are one of the most successful clubs in the world with a trophy-laden history, and the thrust of the current ownership and management plus the desire to exploit previously untapped regions has helped to create a virtuous model.

Chief Communications Officer Pier Donato Vercellone – who has managerial experiences in Nike, Telecom, Costa Cruises and Sisal – was brought in to help direct the new model, which is built around integrating and enhancing the values ​​of the Milan brand.

“Our goal is to further strengthen the emotional bond with the fans and with all the stakeholders. Through the construction of a communication strategy and a narrative that can contribute to considering AC Milan among the football clubs with the best reputation in the world,” he said.

“No sector like this tests the ability and preparation of a structure dedicated to communication. The balanced management of passion and emotion, the ability to activate resilient communication, carefully handling backlashes and up & downs in the world of football, they are fundamental elements to be able to preserve the reputation of the club.

“No sector like football catalyses the passions and attentions of millions of people. He is constantly under the magnifying glass of the media, stakeholders and millions of fans.

“European football actually seems to offer a great opportunity to those who are ready to invest and perhaps even to risk. Obviously, in order to be able to generate value, it is also necessary to work on the transformation of the organisational culture, developing components that are still little considered up to now, but are extraordinarily relevant in view of the evolution of the global economy.

“Such as the value elements related to ESGs [Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance], sustainability and reputational dimensions. At AC Milan we aim to be perceived as a sports brand with a high global reputation, considered innovative and avant-garde, expressing a vision of football, on and off the pitch.”

In recent years Milan have adopted a multidirectional communication path, with the creation of its own studios and the birth of the eSports team, as well as a series of partnerships consistent with the innovative vision such as those with Sony, Apple, Google, and Roc Nation.

“Football is pure passion and emotional bond, essential prerequisites for an engaging and captivating storytelling. But we must be aware that, more than in other areas, there is a need to channel all this emotionality, to structure a path that is effective in the medium-long term, integrating the multiple touchpoints, tools and channels, on a global scale,” Vercellone added.

All of this is seen in evidence as being a success, too. A study published in December by YouGov elected AC Milan as the most admired brand in Serie A, while the CEO of Milan – Ivan Gazidis – is considered the most appreciated managing director in Italy of according to an investigation by Ipsos and StageUp.

Vercellone concluded: “In football, it is not enough to be considered a Lovemark because in their own way all brands tend to want to become one. In order to excel, you need to be able to make as many people fall in love as possible through different modalities, cultural approaches and relationship dynamics.

“But, above all, you need to have ‘increased sensitivity’ to keep the emotional bond alive. We must project forward, without fear, towards the future. Looking beyond, with great love.”

READ MORE: The reasons Pioli is strongly considering fielding Kessie as a trequartista vs. Inter

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