AIG logo dominates All Blacks jersey
"AIG, if you want to appear in an All Black shirt start behaving like one and honour the silver fern and the NZ investing public who paid your premium in 2004 and deserve the compensation they contracted for with your group"Featured comment
Controversial insurance giant AIG will sponsor the All Blacks until at least early 2018, in a deal which includes having its logo across the front of the black jersey.
AIG was bailed out by the US government to the tune of $182 billion in 2008, one of the biggest failures of the global financial crisis.
While the company has since recovered somewhat, and is buying back its stock from the US Treasury, there is still concern the company's underlying businesses are still struggling, according to Businessweek.
The agreement comes after AIG became the official front-of-jersey sponsor for the US junior and collegiate All-American teams. The insurer is trying to shake off the damage to its brand when the US Federal Government bailed out to the tune of US$182.3 billion during the global financial crisis, which it repaid last month.
NZRU chief executive Steve Tew says the sponsorship is the second most valuable rugby sponsorship deal after adidas.
The AIG deal will not affect adidas, Mr Tew says, which will carry on as principal sponsor until at least 2019.
Under the new arrangement, AIG will also sponsor the Maori All Blacks, the Black Ferns, the women's sevens team and the Under 20 teams.
Mr Tew says AIG's support is vital to the NZRU's financial security.
"We have new and ambitious goals, including winning gold in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 with men's and women's sevens, so it's vital we have sponsors like AIG and adidas backing us over the long term," he says.
AIG's president and ceo Bob Benmosche says the sponsorship deal is a good move for his company.
"Rugby is popular around the globe and growing rapidly in the United States, and the top rugby nations align with regions where AIG is strongly represented and is targeting growth."
As part of the deal, AIG's logo will be added to the front of the All Blacks jersey, to be debuted when they play Australia in Brisbane on October 20.
This is the first time the All Blacks jersey will don a logo across its front.
"This is not a decision we have taken lightly," Mr Tew says.
"On balance it is a very positive opportunity to secure the additional funds that we need to help safeguard the future of the game in this country," Mr Tew says.
Rumours AIG would become an All Blacks sponsor have been doing the rounds since July when it was suggested by sports writer Jed Thian.
In the 2011 calendar year, the NZRU received $79.9 million from broadcasting rights, sponsorship and licensing fees, according to its annual report. The NZRU said new contracts saw broadcasting earnings rise 28 percent from 2010, outpacing the 11 percent growth across all commercial income.
The NZRU has been looking at ways to capitalise on the global appeal of the All Blacks brand as it seeks to breakeven this year.
It posted an operating loss of $3.1 million in the 2011 calendar year, smaller than the $3.6 million loss budgeted for and in line with the $3 million loss in 2010. When unrealised exchange rate gains of $13.4 million are included, the NZRU's operating loss turned to a net profit of $9.6 million.
Tew said AIG's sponsorship will help the rugby union build the global image of the brand as it looks to broaden rugby's appeal to other nations, such as the US.
With reporting by BusinessDesk.