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Volume 7 No. 149

Marketing and Sponsorship

The All Blacks are being increasingly commercialized.

The All Blacks are "morphing into rugby's answer to the Rolling Stones:" a "polished touring juggernaut" whose every performance feels like a "once-in-a-lifetime treat," but whose modus operandi are "ever more nakedly corporate," according to Oliver Brown of the London TELEGRAPH. The All Blacks, after decades of "pulverising" every opponent they played, can "consort with multinationals to their hearts' content." This year, for example, a partnership with Apple enables fans to download a selection of the team's curated playlists, from "pre-game pump-up" to "post-match wind-down." With each foray into the northern hemisphere, their "emphasis on milking brand value becomes more marked." In '16, the All Blacks arrived in Chicago as "part of a ruse" by shirt sponsor American Int'l Group to grow their U.S. profile. If there is "one word that has distilled the essence of the All Blacks on their visits" to foreign nations, it is "mystique." Behind the black jersey "lies a feat of alchemy that no other sports operation can fully define, let alone replicate." But "how much longer can such mystique be sustained in this hyper-commercial age?" For former All Black Zinzan Brooke, who played in the '90s, before the All Blacks became a "transcendent global phenomenon," the team's more corporate image "does not represent any cause for alarm." He said, "You will only over-commercialize when the All Blacks stop winning. That's the nuts and bolts" (TELEGRAPH, 11/7).

Ride-sharing company Uber on Thursday partnered with the Int'l Cricket Council to support the first ever standalone ICC Women's World T20, which will be held in the West Indies from Friday through Nov. 24, according to IANS. The 10 countries participating in the tournament are India, Australia, Bangladesh, England, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies. The partnership will focus on community outreach programs, "including sponsorships for aspiring female cricketers to celebrate women in sports" (IANS, 11/8). The global partnership will encompass on-the-ground activation in participating WWT20 countries as well as the creation of a six-part digital film series featuring the stories of female cricketers, watch party and matchday promotions across Uber and Uber Eats in participating countries (ICC).

Pepsi partnered with Chinese esports organizer Gamefy, according to Hongyu Chen of THE ESPORTS OBSERVER. Pepsi will sponsor Gamefy's annual multi-game esports tournament, G-League -- "not to be confused with the NBA minor league basketball organization of the same name." The '18 G-League competition's total prize pool for all games is more than 1.67M yuan ($241,000). Multiple esports games will be featured, including Tencent Games' Honor of Kings and QQ Speed, Smilegate's CrossFire and Blizzard Entertainment card game Hearthstone. This is the first time Pepsi will sponsor an esports tournament in China. G-League is one of the "more historic esports tournament brands in the region" (TEO, 11/8).

KUALA LUMPUR MAJOR: TEO's Max Miceli reported the Dota 2 Kuala Lumpur Major, which will be hosted by Romanian event promoter PGL, added software company SAP as the official analytics partner for the event. PGL announced SAP's involvement will help "boost the viewer experience" (TEO, 11/8).

For more coverage of the business of esports, visit our partners,

Cricket Australia announced the renewal of the partnership between global kids' entertainment brand Nickelodeon and the Big Bash League for a third consecutive season. The '18-19 partnership will include at-match activations and gameplay featuring the characters from Nickelodeon's "Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," a third season of "Crash the Bash" and prizes for fans throughout the BBL season (CA). 

Porsche signed a multi-year agreement with fashion company Hugo Boss. As the official clothing partner, Hugo Boss will equip the entire Porsche Motorsport team worldwide -- on the race track and in the workshop. The agreement also includes outfitting the future Porsche Formula E team (Porsche). 

Serie A side Lazio signed a deal with Caffe Mamanero making the coffee manufacturer an official partner. The deal, negotiated by Infront, gives the company a brand presence at the Stadio Olimpico, which Lazio shares with AS Roma. Mamanero branding will be displayed on LED boards, at press conferences and in marketing initiatives throughout the year (SOCCEREX, 11/8).

Euroleaue Basketball and bwin announced a multi-year sponsorship renewal. The new arrangement will run for an initial three-year period and cover Greece, Italy and Spain (EuroLeague).