· All Blacks brand valued at US$169 million (NZ$251 million)
· Up from US$132 million (NZ$197 million) just prior to the tournament
· Conservative approach to sponsorship holding back growth
· Could reach US$500 within a decade
The All Blacks’ commanding win in the Rugby World Cup has cemented their position as Rugby’s pre-eminent brand. Immediately prior to the tournament, specialist brand valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance estimated the All Blacks brand to be worth US$132 million (NZ$197m) A third world cup victory (the first on foreign soil) has added a further US$36m (NZ$54m).
The Rugby World Cup is the third most watched sporting occasion, the 7s version of the game will feature in next year’s Olympics and rugby is the world’s fastest growing team sport. Add to that the sport’s more than averagely affluent fan base and you have an exciting commercial prospect for sponsors and broadcasters alike. The All Blacks have established a string of commercial deals with companies as diverse as Air New Zealand, AIG and Bulgari, a lucrative TV rights deal and unrivalled merchandising opportunities.
Bryn Anderson, head of Brand Finance’s Sports Marketing unit comments, “New Zealand are world champions and enjoy a historic win rate of 77%, the closest thing to guaranteed success a sponsor of a major sport could hope for. The All Blacks are a sponsor’s dream off the field too, renowned for their fairness, good-sportsmanship and disciplined behaviour.”
“The popularity of Rugby is growing rapidly, particularly in the US. The All Blacks’ one off game against the US Eagles in 2014 was a considerable success, attracting over 60,000 spectators. The game was broadcast on NBC to a huge audience, one that is even more affluent than in the rest of the world. 88% of registered US players are college educated and 69% work in professional roles. Existing sponsors AIG, Adidas and Air New Zealand would doubtless be more than happy to help facilitate the All Blacks’ forays into the world’s most lucrative market.
However the All Blacks may fail to fully capitalise financially on their World Cup victory. Anderson continues “Adidas extended its deal to 2019 while the fees for broadcast and content rights have been agreed with Sky TV until 2020, meaning two key commercial deals cannot be renegotiated for over three years. In addition,New Zealand Rugby have in the past taken a conservative approach to establishing new deals, cautious of the sense of ownership that many Kiwis feel for their national team.”
“The All Blacks and New Zealand Rugby must seize the opportunity to maximise the commercial opportunities that their brand presents. If managed properly to ensure brand fit, there is no reason they couldn’t establish dozens of global, top-tier partnerships in the same way that football clubs such as Manchester United have done. A willingness to expand and segment commercial partnerships will be important. So too will be increasing the visibility of the team outside of major tournaments by staging exhibition games, particularly in the US, or even locating competitive games in key growth regions, just as the NFL now does in the UK. Brand Finance’s analysis suggests that the All Blacks could command a US$500 million brand by the 2023 world cup.”