What AIG is doing with 60,000 All Blacks jerseys

As a new sponsor of the All Blacks, American insurance giant AIG plans to give each one of its 60,000 global staff a free All Blacks jersey.

The made-in-China jerseys – which now feature AIG's logo on the front – are produced by adidas and retail for $190 on the All Blacks website.

It is not known whether AIG bought the jerseys, or if they were given to it by adidas.

The move was revealed by AIG's New Zealand chief executive, Cris Knell, who wrote to NBR ONLINE twice since Wednesday challenging a story about whether Superstorm Sandy was likely to effect AIG's All Blacks sponsorship.

Initially seeking comment from the New Zealand Rugby Union, AIG's New Zealand spin doctor Nicola Vallance called back to insist there was "no relationship between Sandy and the sponsorship deal".

Mr Knell was concerned by Ms Vallance being referred to as a "spin doctor" and about questions raised about AIG's financial health following Superstorm Sandy, which will be a costly event for the company.

AIG has already been bailed out by the US government to the tune of $182 billion in 2008.

Mr Knell says despite the company facing "significant losses" from Superstorm Sandy, "these losses will not effect our commitment and our partnership with New Zealand rugby".

The company, he says, is financially healthy and has also repaid its US government loan.

Objection to 'spin doctor'

NZRU spin doctor Mike Jaspers also questioned the spin doctor term. 

Mr Jaspers said he did not know if adidas made the All Blacks jersey, or contracted it out, and referred questions to adidas' spin doctor Sherryl Arnell.

Before giving out any information, Ms Arnell wanted to know what "angle" NBR was taking and if AIG's jersey gift was viewed as a "good or a bad thing".

Did acute paranoia envelop what sounds like a fairly generous jersey move?

McCaw still most liked

Meanwhile, All Black captain Richie McCaw – who leaves the team on a six-month sabbatical at the end of the year – is the country's most liked sports player.

In a UMR survey of 1000 people, 89% viewed McCaw favourably, up 11% since the question was last asked in 2008.

Fifty-six percent of those surveyed also believe McCaw deserves to be seen as the greatest All Black of all time.