Ophelia Buckleton is a reporter for the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Marketing fail has Blues taking on the Lions at Mt Eden Prison

Sportswear giant’s rugby jersey blunder won’t be fixed.
The Blues are focused on the Lions clash on June 7, not the jerseys. Photo / Brett Phibbs
The Blues are focused on the Lions clash on June 7, not the jerseys. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The Blues have described an epic marketing fail, which has them taking on the touring British and Irish Lions at Mt Eden Prison, not Eden Park, as "less than ideal".

Earlier this month sportswear giant adidas - which is both a New Zealand Rugby sponsor and kit provider - released replica jerseys of those to be worn by our five Super Rugby franchises when they face the Lions in June.

On each jersey's sleeves are "battleground coordinates", meant to match up to the venues where the games will be hosted.

But in a colossal mistake, coordinates on the Blues' jersey pinpoint Mt Eden Prison, instead of Eden Park where the Tana Umaga-coached team will play the Lions on June 7. But it seems the jerseys won't be re-issued.

"We were advised by adidas of the error with the coordinates on the jersey, and while less than ideal, it will not impact the occasion," said a spokesperson for the Blues.

"Currently the Blues are fully focused on the Super Rugby competition. Longer term we are looking forward to what we trust will be a great spectacle and experience when we play the British and Irish Lions at Eden Park."

The coordinates on the sleeves of the other Super Rugby franchises jerseys are also wrong, although lead to less unsavoury locations.

The Crusaders' sleeves lead to an address on Eversleigh St in suburban St Albans in Christchurch, not AMI Stadium, and the Highlanders' digits pinpoint a forested part of north Dunedin called Bethune's Gully, not the roofed Forsyth Barr Stadium.

"We have no particular problem with our jersey as we understand the coordinates point to the city or region that we come from, not specifically the stadium address," said Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach.

The "battleground coordinates" on the arm of the Blues' special new rugby jerseys give the location of Mt Eden Prison.
The "battleground coordinates" on the arm of the Blues' special new rugby jerseys give the location of Mt Eden Prison.

He said the team "wore the jersey with pride" in the second round of Super Rugby earlier this month and are looking forward to wearing it again when they take on the Lions on June 10.

"Our game at AMI Stadium has sold out and will be a fantastic occasion, we can't wait."

The Hurricanes' jerseys lead fans to the Wellington Botanical Gardens, not their stomping ground of Westpac Stadium.

However Hurricanes chief executive Avan Lee said the franchise has had positive feedback on the jerseys.

"Our special edition adidas jersey looks great and is selling well and we are looking forward to welcoming the many fans from Europe who will travel and support their team and make the tour a vibrant event for Wellington and New Zealand."

Meanwhile, the Chiefs' coordinates go to Waikato University, not Hamilton's FMG Stadium.

Chiefs chief executive Andrew Flexman said the club was "really happy" with the limited edition jersey.

"And so are our fans gauging by the sales to date," he said.

"The design has been really well received and it's a great concept to commemorate our involvement in the 2017 British and Irish Lions Tour.

"We have no concerns with the coordinates on our jersey pointing to the University of Waikato. Not only is the University of Waikato a great supporter of the Chiefs and the wider rugby community, many of our fans and players have been or are currently educated there."

This is one of several recent blunders made by the three-stripe brand including confusing All Black Malakai Fekitoa for team mate Julian Savea in a promotional video last year.

Adidas also misspelled South American country Colombia as "Columbia" in promotional images for the Copa America football tournament.


- NZ Herald

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