MLS Annual Kit Releases Signal a New Era: Primary vs. Secondary replaced with Extraordinary

As a prelude to the start of a new season, MLS teams have again upheld the tradition of releasing a new kit. Whereas past kit introductions were denoted as “Primary” or “Secondary” though, this season’s kits have supplanted those designations with “Extraordinary.”  

 Extraordinary in design. 

Extraordinary in theme. 

Adidas and MLS teams have set the bar, not just for a new kit for each club, but in a powerful declaration that the next season has now arrived. Released over the span of several days beginning on February 15th, each team revealed a kit rich in details native to its city, its heritage and its traditions. Each kit is also accompanied by a moniker crafted to instill pride amongst the teams’ supporters.  

 A debate on which design is best could outlast the duration of 2023 season.  

 In terms of social performance of kit release content, compared to that of the entire offseason, there is a clear winner: Nashville SC and The Man In Black Kit.  

  1. Nashville SC | The Man In Black Kit | +6.1x in Impressions

Inspired by legendary singer and Nashville native Johnny Cash (aka the “Man In Black”), the kit is a sharp contrast to the team’s bright gold look that has defined the club since its inaugural season three years ago. The team’s initial posts and video drops across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram achieved a combined 595,000 impressions, or nearly 200K per each launch post. On average, that was 6.1x higher than its average post during the offseason – triple the league average of 2.1x. Don’t be surprised if this kit makes an appearance on season 2 of Netflix’s Wednesday, donned by its color-averse lead character. 

  1. St. Louis City | The Spirit Kit | +3.9x in Impressions

As the newest club in the league embarks on its inaugural season, St. Louis City recorded the second highest boost in impressions compared to an average post during the offseason: +3.9 times higher. The club’s The Spirit Kit is a tribute to its home stadium CITYPARK and all of the club’s founding fans. The club’s initial launch posts across each platform each averaged over 171K impressions.

  1. Austin FC | Las Voces Kit | +3.3x in Impressions

The club, which debuted in 2021, utilizes its new kit to continue leveraging its VERDE brand and the uniqueness of its city and its people. As the message in its launch content stated, “Different Austin stories, all connected by VERDE.” Austin FC was the only MLS club to post kit launch content across its accounts in English and Spanish, with the latter preceding the former by one hour. The posts achieved a combined 410K impressions.

  1. FC Cincinnati | The River Kit | +2.7x in Impressions

FC Cincinnati achieved the fourth-highest boost in impressions (+2.7x). The team’s jersey pays homage to the Ohio River and features the Cincinnati wordmark on the back neck as well as the city’s landmark Roebling Bridge.

  1. Chicago Fire | The Kit For All | +2.7x in Impressions

The Fire’s new kit most prominently calls out the team’s new crest, which debuted last season, by placing it in the middle of the jersey. The color scheme of red and navy blue was drawn from the Illinois state flag as well as the Fire’s logo itself.

The table below compares each team’s social content performance during the kit release period (2/15-2/18) to the offseason period, beginning just after the MLS Cup Final (11/7/22-2/14/23). Due to the World Cup, this past offseason was more extended than usual, placing even more importance on teams reigniting fan interest heading into this weekend’s first matchday. Data was measured across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Kit launch content reflects the first/intro post made on each platform. 

MLS Average: 2.1 | Top 5 Average: 3.7  | Top 10 Average: 3.1 

 Note: CF Montreal’s new kit has been delayed. Seattle Sounders competed in the FIFA Club World Cup, held in Morocco 2/1-2/11.

Header Photo by Tareq Ismail on Unsplash