All Blacks: Brand McCaw cashes in

By Bevan Hurley, Joanne Carroll

He's the biggest star in the All Blacks and his next big market is...France

Stephen Donald.
Photo / Getty Images
Stephen Donald. Photo / Getty Images

They conquered all comers on the rugby field but the All Blacks could find it harder to cash in off the field.

While the All Black brand is riding high, marketing experts believe individual players will find it difficult to match their world-beating performances with lucrative endorsements.

None of the players will be able to call themselves World Cup winners in any product endorsements, due to strict IRB regulations.

This weekend, Stephen Donald told the Herald on Sunday he was open to whatever marketing opportunities came his way.

"I'm going to have to start asking [Richard] Kahui for some of his Rexona deal. It would be good if he would give me that," he said. "I don't think I'm good- looking enough to do Jockey like Dan Carter."

Of the team's three genuine superstars, Carter, Sonny Bill Williams and Richie McCaw, sports marketing expert Simon Arkwright said only McCaw would have enhanced his earning potential. He said man-of-the-moment Donald, who was off-contract with the NZRU, was potentially the only other All Black to increase his earning potential.

"If you had a much-maligned brand, and you were prepared to admit that, then [Donald] could be a good opportunity," he said.

Carter's tournament was cruelly cut short through a groin injury and Williams' sporadic use of the bench meant they weren't exposed to new audiences.

"If [McCaw] had an interest, I would have thought there would be considerable potential for him to increase and expand his portfolios of endorsements," Arkwright said.

Rugby is big business in France - more than 15 million viewers tuned in to watch the final, making it the most-watched television event of the year. Businesses like Peugeot and Renault paid upward of $4 million in advertising during the game, according to broadcaster TF1.

More All Black jerseys were sold in France than in New Zealand, and there were 120,000 French fans signed up to the All Blacks' Facebook page.

France was already the biggest offshore market for New Zealand and many French fans backed the All Blacks as a second team after their beloved Les Bleus.

While McCaw's management at Essentially Group refused to comment on future earning deals, sports marketers said France loomed as a potential new market for McCaw.

Any products would have to avoid coming into conflict with existing All Black sponsors.

No other players achieved that global reach, said Arkwright. "There was no significant change in hierarchy during the cup - there were no Jonah moments," said Arkwright, who works for Sports Research Group.

McCaw's All Blacks salary was about $750,000 - plus a $100,000 World Cup bonus - with much more reaped through third-party contracts.

The skipper signed to stay on with the NZRU until the 2015 World Cup.

His property portfolio consisted of houses in the Christchurch suburbs of St Albans and Shirley, three in Omarama, plus a new holiday home in Wanaka.

He also had directorships or shareholdings in 16 companies, mainly in the retirement home and aged care industries.

For New Zealand Rugby Union boss Steve Tew, it was difficult to put a dollar figure on what the World Cup win was worth to the All Blacks brand.

"We run a significant business over a long period of time and we don't always win Rugby World Cups," Tew said. "If winning it was going to be the make or break, we would have been in trouble over the past 25 years."

- Herald on Sunday

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