Chief Revenue Officer Casper Stylsvig has given some insight into how AC Milan are aiming to transition from being just a football club to also being an entertainment company.
Stylsvig has given an interview to Business People magazine in which he talked about the path that Milan have been on from a commercial point of view since he arrived at the club three and a half years ago, with MilanNews relaying his comments.
His arrival at Milan, which took place in March 2019, coincided with a change of pace also on the club’s marketing front and the feeling is that there is a positive trend given the increase in revenues and decrease in losses year on year.
Can you tell us where you started from and what evolution you went through to reverse the direction and arrive at the results that the club are obtaining off the pitch?
“We inherited the club during one of the most complex phases. As far as off-field performances are concerned, with the aim of overcoming this situation it was necessary to implement a clear commercial vision, which led us to operate by priority, specifically and detailed in each business area.
“This is what we are continuing to do in order to exploit the full potential of a global and legendary brand like AC Milan, which looks to the future. We aim to increasingly involve the more than 500 million Rossoneri fans scattered around all over the world and create new opportunities of value for our partners.
“For this reason we have started a process of innovation and modernisation of the club, on which we are focusing a lot to involve the fans of the future. In fact, today’s young fans they don’t connect to football in the same way we did. The experiences they require are very different. From fashion, to egames, passing through music and new social media, the Milan brand must not only be present but guide and set new trends.”
There has been a lot of talk about the club’s ability to identify talent thanks to the use of algorithms and data analysis. What role do these technologies play in your marketing activities?
“Our approach to analytics and innovation means putting data-driven decision-making at the heart of everything we do, in order to make better, faster decisions – across the club, on or off the pitch. This year, for example, we launched the new e-commerce project, internalising the activity following two key factors: on the one hand, having a greater opportunity to realize the full potential in sales, on the other, guaranteeing the ability to capitalize on a trend that has greatly accelerated during the pandemic.”
The 19th Scudetto certainly gave the fans enthusiasm and boosted commercial partnerships. In terms of ‘data’, what did this success represent for you?
“It’s true. Winning the Scudetto was a huge sporting result, which allowed the club to strengthen the positive perception of the brand and tie it to the fans, generating effects that create commercial value and increase its reputation.
“The analysis conducted in days following the end of the Serie A championship allowed us to record several records in terms of digital interactions.For example, over 3 million people followed the celebrations live from Casa Milan after the victory over Sassuolo, while the parade on the bus on May 23 in the streets of Milan was among the trending videos on YouTube in Italy.
“The results on social networks, whose user base has grown exponentially after the Scudetto, have also been exciting: for example, AC Milan’s TikTok channel is acquired 900,000 more followers in a short time, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s dressing room speech was the most viewed video globally on Instagram between May 23 and 25 o, and “WeTheChamp1ons” was the visual with the most interactions on Facebook among the top 20 European clubs.
“These are very important numbers but, just as sporting success does not arise overnight, these incredible results too were made possible by the work done by the club’s official channels in the previous months: over time we managed to create a solid connection with the AC Milan community, involving and fuelling the passion of millions of fans around the world on a daily basis. A connection that is not only virtual, as evidenced by the recent AC Milan Trophy Tour, which took last season’s trophy around the world.”
Ticketing, purchases in stores and e-commerce portals, social pages and dedicated applications… are there other sources or partners you rely on to get to know your 500 million supporters worldwide better?
“Yes, the club is taking various avenues to get to know its fans better. For example, AC Milan has invested heavily in digital infrastructure, which allows us to have a complete overview of our fans, in order to make the best decisions.
“Our strategy is to convert an increasing number of anonymous fans into Crm users and provide them [online and offline, in Italy and abroad] with a unique experience, while at the same time drawing commercial benefits for the club.”
Has the analysis of information regarding your supporters allowed you to improve your communication campaigns, perhaps declining them according to geographical areas?
“We constantly monitor our audience and fan sentiment, and react through our team of social media managers, riding trends and adapting our tone of voice. We differentiate content across different channels, depending on audience and geographic area, ensuring an individual approach to each of our target segments.
“The trend is to provide personalised experiences; a trend destined to develop further and for this we marketers must constantly strive in this direction to offer the best digital experiences to all consumers. Milan is evolving more and more towards an entertainment company.”
How important are new technologies in this sense for analysing and choosing which “non-sporting” sectors to move into?
“Football is evolving and heading more and more towards the entertainment industry. For a club like AC Milan it is essential to keep pace, know how to adapt and play an important role in the sector. It is about involving the fans of the future and at the same time increasing our popularity and the number of fans.
“This means capturing a good percentage of the time they spend on platforms, but it must be considered that the time spent on digital media decreases their ability to concentrate. For this reason, only original content, creative, unique and interesting can allow us to achieve our goal.
“We must attract attention and be present, creating high-level content capable of involving those who follow us. Fans almost no longer follow the match passively, but through content they want to be part of the history of a club like AC Milan, from Monday to kick-off.
“We also need to differentiate the contents depending on the channels on which we offer them, and this is why we have a clear strategy for Twitch, one for TikTok, etc… We are a media company, and for this reason we have invested in Studios: a new model that allows us to manage the entire process of production and dissemination of content, to position the club as a protagonist in the evolution of international sport-entertainment.”
During the transfer of ownership to RedBird, the founder and Managing Partner Gerry Cardinale also emphasised the experience of the American fund in sports entertainment, data collection and analysis to keep Milan at the top of world football. What added value will the new ownership bring in this sense?
“RedBird are working to ensure continuity of Elliott’s management, consolidating the excellent sporting results obtained in the past season and continuing to invest in all key areas of the club, including marketing and data analysis, with the aim of taking another step forward at sporting and commercial level.
“In general, among the priorities there is the consolidation of the commercial and sporting leadership of the club, in order to make the team competitive at the highest levels, guaranteeing structures and infrastructures, including digital ones, necessary for one of the most important sporting organisations in the world.
“AC Milan also intends to strengthen the women’s and youth teams, without ever forgetting its philanthropic arm, represented by the Milan Foundation.”