AC Milan is growing and evolving in the strategic Chinese market. In addition to being recognised as the strongest Italian football club brand in the Country - according to international market research and data analytics YouGov - the Rossoneri have won a number of industry awards in China for their work in the digital world, especially with their first-ever "China Digital Summer Tour." The Tour launched in the summer of 2020 and it was a unique and innovative digital experience offered by AC Milan to its fans in China, which allowed the Club to be close to its Chinese fanbase without being physically in the country.
The event was named the Best Sports Innovation of the Year by Sports Money, one of the most important sports business media organisations in China. The tour offered an immersive digital experience to millions of Chinese fans, who were given the chance to interact with players and Legends on a brand-new digital platform. They were able to take photos and collect autographs, listen to players' conversations, tour Milan landmarks, and play creative games as well as receiving the limited-edition gadgets and customised merchandise that the Club created exclusively for them.
The "China Digital Summer Tour" was also rewarded for its innovative use of new technologies and the overall planning and integration of activities. The event won the "Top Brand Innovation Award" and "Global MarTech&Retail Innovation Best Integrated Marketing Award", two prestigious awards in the brand marketing field. AC Milan has become the only sports club to win the two annual accolades.
In January 2021, AC Milan was also rewarded for its use of Weibo and Toutiao, China's leading social media platforms. The creative interaction with fans on the platforms and the production of engaging content allowed the Club to win the annual Weibo Sports Star Power "Most Influential Football Club", with the Club also being included in the top five in the overall Toutiao’s international football power ranking.
AC Milan Chief Revenue Officer Casper Stylsvig said: "With the world being hit by the pandemic, we had to quickly adapt and find new innovative ways to connect with our over 500 million fans across the globe, including our huge fanbase in China. This is why we were able to create, with the help of our partners, the Digital Summer Tour. The response was incredible, which goes to show the level of engagement of our fans on an international level. We are very proud of being recognized for our activities and efforts to engage with our fans in such challenging times."
AC Milan's Chinese Digital Media Matrix counts seven platforms including Weibo, WeChat Official Account, WeChat Channels Account, Toutiao, Douyin, Dongqiudi and Oasis and the Club produces engaging content adapted for the characteristics and the audience of each different platform. The total number of fans on these platforms exceeds 3.8 million.
These new experiences represent the future for AC Milan, which will continue to plan and implement digital activities to provide top-level interactive entertainment for its Chinese fanbase.
This process will give further momentum to the popularity of such a beloved brand in the Country, as proven by YouGov's research, which revealed that AC Milan is the strongest Italian brand in China. The results were calculated by averaging six indicators: impression on players and coaches; perception of management; fan culture; tradition; quality of the game and club success.