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Volume 10 No. 25

Marketing and Sponsorship

American insurance firm AIG and the New Zealand Rugby Union have agreed to a five-and-a-half-year deal for AIG to sponsor six NZRU rugby teams: the All Blacks, Maori All Blacks, All Blacks Sevens, New Zealand Black Ferns (women’s fifteens), New Zealand Women’s Sevens and New Zealand Under 20. Financial terms of the sponsorship agreement are not being disclosed.  NZRU CEO Steve Tew said, "A new logo on the All Blacks jersey is not a step we have taken lightly -- we respect the rich and proud heritage of this extraordinary team and carefully weighed the change. In the end, the AIG sponsorship is an unprecedented opportunity, and the best option to sustain the future of New Zealand rugby and grow the global game.” The refreshed AIG logo will be prominently displayed in contrasting white on the historically black front of the jerseys and back of shorts for the four men’s teams, and front of the jerseys for the two women’s teams. The new jersey was worn by the All Blacks Sevens during the first tournament of the '12-13 HSBC Sevens World Series tournament on the Gold Coast in Australia last Saturday in a game against the U.S. Eagle 7s. On the All Blacks jersey, AIG’s logo is just less than one-third the size of the maximum allowed under Int'l Rugby Board guidelines, in consideration of the historical significance of that jersey (AIG).

TOUGH OFFER TO TURN DOWN: The APNZ noted that with the current economic climate affecting all sizes of businesses, the NZRU "would have been remiss to turn down the multimillion-dollar deal" offered by AIG. The deal, which will run until May '18, is "believed to be the second-most valuable sponsorship agreement in world rugby -- trailing only the NZRU's current partnership with adidas." Tew added, "We are in a challenging time in this world we live in. We have a business that has roughly $100M turnover a year -- it needs to be significantly more than that if we're going to survive, if we're going to grow the game at the community level and if we're going to retain players. It's a challenge for us, and we need some money" (APNZ, 10/13).

DEALING WITH THE BACKLASH: The AFP reported that All Blacks’ fans "reacted angrily to the NZRU’s controversial decision" to sell commercial space on the front of the club's jersey. The All Blacks’ official Facebook page has been flooded with comments from passionate New Zea­lan­ders who object to having the name splashed across the front of the side’s shirt. Purists called the decision a “disgrace” and "disrespectful" (AFP, 10/14).

SHOW ME THE MONEY: In Auckland, Richard Loe wrote that most rugby people realize that "the modern game needs revenue, and a lot of it." There has been "a lot of publicity in recent years about the difficulty of keeping professional rugby afloat in this part of the world, compared to the big money that sloshes around in the northern hemisphere where they have the population base and the big financial numbers that go with it." Loe concluded: "So that leaves one question -- what's the best use of the money by the NZRU? For me, the answer is simple -- the ITM Cup and Heartland rugby" (NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 10/14).

REHABBING THE BRAND: In N.Y., Baynes & Tracer wrote AIG CEO Robert Benmosche wants to "revive a brand that his predecessor Edward Liddy dismissed as 'wounded and disgraced' in '09 amid a U.S. bailout that swelled in value to $182.3B and was repaid last month." Benmosche is scheduled to ring the opening bell at the N.Y. Stock Exchange next week and unveil a redesigned logo (BLOOMBERG, 10/12).

The football Bundesliga "fears to lose millions in sponsorship money from the gambling industry," according to Stefan Merx of the WALL STREET JOURNAL DEUTSCHLAND. Bayern Munich Marketing Dir Andreas Jung appraises the additional sponsorship money the 1st and 2nd Bundesliga could receive from the gambling industry to be a "three-digit million amount." Jung said, "At the moment, not even a third of it is exhausted." Jung warns that this new source of income could ebb away before it even starts and added: "The states protect the state-owned betting providers, and the clubs are the ones that suffer. There's a concrete danger that the gambling industry will lose its interest in the German market and invest in other countries, which have reasonable regulations that are in conformity with the market." Just a few months ago, Bundesliga managers were celebrating when the European Union announced a controlled opening of the multi-billion dollar sports gambling market. Private competitors were supposed to establish a legal alternative to the state-owned sports betting game Oddset. Through taxation millions were supposed to go to the revenue department. However, the restructuring of Germany's gambling regulations "threatens to descent into chaos." From the betting providers' view, the problems start at the licensing procedure. Many private providers will end up empty handed following the current ongoing licensing procedure as the amount of approved private betting providers is capped at 20. Sport marketing company Sport+Markt expert Andreas Ullman said, "The advertising potential of the gambling industry in Germany is largely passing by." However, 17 Bundesliga clubs, with the only exception being Wolfsburg, have a betting provider in their sponsorship portfolio. According to marketing industry magazine Sponsors, the money the clubs receive from their deals with betting providers translates into a manageable sponsorship volume of €14.1M ($18.3M) (WSJ DEUTSCHLAND, 10/12).

IMG Worldwide has acquired a majority share in global provider of live sports data Enetpulse. Enetpulse, which is the worldwide distributor of official live scoring data for the ATP and the WTA, will become the data arm of IMG Media (IMG). ... The Indonesian Ministry of Tourism & Creative Economy revealed that the country will be the primary tourism destination sponsor of the 2012 ING New York City Marathon on Nov. 4 in N.Y. The ministry has again appointed IMG to strategize and execute the sponsorship and marketing of Indonesia tourism at the marathon. This year, in addition to being a sponsor of the marathon, the ministry will also be the leading tourism sponsor of the NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5K from the U.N. to Central Park on the Saturday before marathon day (IMG). ... Solar company Sunpower will end its title sponsorship of Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen after two years at the end of the '12-13 season (Bayer Leverkusen). ... German Handball Bundesliga club SG Flensburg-Handewitt signed a new sponsorship deal with online printing service Cewe. The two-year deal will include ad space during home games and all printing jobs of the club (SG Flensburg-Handewitt). ... Sports equipment company Oakley will sponsor Sunday's Tristar Rio de Janeiro triathlon. Sports marketing agency One Sports Business helped broker the deal (, 10/11). ... A-League club Melbourne Victory has signed on Oliana Foods as its joint principal partner and away shirt sponsor. The company already has its logo on Coach Ange Postecoglou's collar (Melbourne Victory). ... Titleist has signed on to sponsor the UAE's first professional golfer Ahmad Al Musharrakh through Prosports International. The 21-year-old just turned pro last month (GULF NEWS, 10/13).