All Blacks brand set to raise its profile

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Interbrand managing director Mark Jenner.
John Drinnan asks Mark Jenner, managing director of branding agency Interbrand, whether the All Blacks brand is match-ready for its star turn on the world stage.

By John Drinnan

How much is the Rugby World Cup a place to sell the All Blacks brand?

It's a very important event, not just for rugby as a code but for individual teams to build their brand with two distinct groups: first, their fans, and second, their commercial partners, sponsors and advertisers. The Cup showcases the best of the best and aims at people who would not normally follow rugby.

In some ways the All Blacks give credibility to the World Cup.

The All Blacks are effectively "loaning" their brand to the tournament .

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Does the value of the sponsorship change depending on whether the team win the Cup or not?

Everyone knows all teams will lose at some point but as long as the losses are "expected" and limited, the brand and therefore value to commercial sponsors is not diminished.

The All Blacks are the "winningest" team, across all codes and countries, so it would take a very long time and a long run of losses before sponsors started questioning its value.

There have been some raised eyebrows about All Blacks getting involved in political matters and even giving opinions on changing the NZ flag. Are we seeing missteps handling the brand?

Not recently. There have been periods in the wider All Black history when, for whatever reasons, they have been portrayed as distant, remote and untouchable.

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This behaviour is at odds with their two core values of inclusiveness and humility, thereby weakening the brand. Fortunately, the recent team understands this.

Richie McCaw is going after the Cup. What is the relationship between his brand and that of the All Blacks?

Richie is the essence of the All Blacks brand. His track record and mana build the All Black brand and provide a living demonstration of it.

Great brands are valued by their consumers - or fans - because there is a fair value exchange.

Fans invest money, time and energy and in return the All Blacks win and do so in a style and manner the fans expect. In Richie's case, he's given more than fans can realistically give back.

Evidence of this was the extraordinary scenes at Eden Park when he played his last game on New Zealand soil. Fans stayed behind to, in branding terms, "square the ledger".

How universal is the brand appeal of the All Blacks? Multicultural Auckland has a lot of people who do not have an association with the All Blacks. Does that matter for the brand?

The challenge for rugby in general and the All Blacks in particular is to engage new consumers (fans).

For many people, the game and the team are simply not on their radar. The Cup provides an ideal opportunity to change that. However, the brand is so strong that even people not actively engaged with rugby will almost certainly be aware of the All Blacks.

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