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Nike prefers a fictional Premier League team to a real Serie A team

While Ted Lasso will have his jersey signed by the swoosh, fewer and fewer clubs are being sponsored

Nike prefers a fictional Premier League team to a real Serie A team While Ted Lasso will have his jersey signed by the swoosh, fewer and fewer clubs are being sponsored

Yesterday, through their very active social profiles, Nike and Apple+ revealed how next season's jersey, both television and sports, for AFC Richmond will be made by the US giant. Now, if you've never heard of AFC Richmond, fear not, your encyclopedic knowledge of UK soccer is not in doubt. It is in fact the fictional team featured in the Apple+ Ted Lasso TV Series, in which an American football coach is called upon to manage an English soccer club on the brink of the precipice. The success of the series, starring Jason Sudeikis, has created a certain cult following around AFC Richmond and its players, from gruff captain Roy Kent to Mexican forward Dani Rojas and local favorite Sam Obisanya

This impact on pop culture, which is not trivial given that there are not many audiovisual products about the world of soccer that are really successful, has prompted Nike to create jerseys for the team, taking the template used by Barcelona during the 2008-09 season. An interesting move, both because Nike had never made soccer kits for a television production - they did, however, make the uniforms for Space Jam 2 a short time ago - and because it highlights the change in the line by the American company towards its own sponsorships. 

In fact, chance had it that at the same time another piece of news came out that was in the air and was only waiting to be official, namely that Nike would not renew its contract with Serie A, ending it after fifteen years. A defection that leaves only Inter to wear the world's most famous mustache on their shirts in Italy. Nike's withdrawal from our top league is desolating, and shows how little appeal it has been able to create in recent years towards the most important sports brand on the planet, convincing it to gradually disinvest in our country. 

At the same time, Nike in the last period has strongly redefined its communication strategy, using its power to afford not to be dragged into the testimonial market and opting instead for more transversal campaigns on multi-platform to reach different target groups. Abandoning the bottleneck of celebrity culture to embrace a more organic narrative, Nike has actually loosened its grip on traditional sponsorship towards new avenues for expanding its already extensive user base. Stories rather than names, we might say. 

With this slogan in mind, it's not hard to see why it chose to create a game kit for a fictional club over a real one. First of all, because the Premier League is the one that, more than any other, has been able to build a narrative so strong that it has created a growing following on the other side of the ocean. Secondly, because Ted Lasso will allow Nike to enter a field of play that is still unexplored but perfectly in line with the brand's communicative identity. In its first two seasons, the TV series stood out for its ability and sensitivity in portraying current issues such as inclusiveness, mental health, racism and sportwashing, making it a perfect partner for wearing the swoosh on the chest. Values that Nike has put at the center of its narrative for years and that in many ways belong more to a television product rather than to a football club.