Following the sneak peak earlier this week, today Adidas revealed the new All Blacks' jersey with a Facebook video by Augusto that racked up hundreds of likes in the first half an hour with thousands to follow. And all this for what is essentially a subtle variation on a predominantly black shirt.
Adidas global brand manager Adam Daysh runs the All Blacks sponsorship and says the hype is not so much about the jersey, but what it means for New Zealand as a symbol of the All Blacks and therefore a symbol of the nation.
Accordingly, fans buy the jersey to show their support with many purchasing the new one released every two years. This year, Daysh says interests has been helped by the All Blacks’ world record with the 18 consecutive wins.
“Fans support the team in any way they can and one form of that is buying the jersey.”
And while hype is created around the making of the jersey, one thing fans can guarantee is it will be black, as it it a requisite for All Black jerseys Daysh says.
“We tend to work in 18-month to two-year development cycles and what we do at the beginning of that cycle is we sit down with the players and get their feedback on what they like in the current jersey, what they would like to see in future jerseys and if there are any issues such as fit or comfort. It is about supplying the players with the best product so we can help them as best we can on the field.”
Daysh says this jersey is the strongest Adidas has ever created, with the strength lying in a fabric woven together by a computer programme.
There is also a new undergarment, which is being called the chassis, to stabilise the core and improve posture, as well as a new collar that sits lower for comfort and makes it harder to grab onto. All these changes are great for the players on the field, but they're really quite meaningless to the fans, who are, in reality, the major target market for the jersey.
In response to the challenge of appealing to group who aren't necessarily all that interested in the tech behind the shirt, the Augusto campaign focuses on the slight aesthetic changes that have been introduced.
The triangular graphics embroidered onto the shirt play a starring role in the sci-fi themed ad, swirling around the All Blacks before materialising as the new jersey.
Creative director Matt Sellars describes it as: “a giant force that implodes onto their bodies”.
Close up shots of the jersey are then shown to draw attention to the detail in the fabric.
“From a far the new jersey looks like a black jersey with a refined shape, but when you get up close and see it, it's like you're looking at some sort of battle armour,” Sellars says. “When you wear it, see it and touch it, it’s like no other jersey you have seen before.”
The idea of the new jersey being like no other before is what Augusto wanted to portray in the teaser video that was released earlier this week. Sellars says the new jersey was going to get enough hype in itself but in the week leading up to its launch it wanted to show the jersey has a different feel than before.
He says it wanted to give a sense that something new was happening and having a “technical, sci-fi element would hopefully tease fans in a new way”. He adds the elements will also be used in supporting posters and online content.
Alongside the creative is the line ‘Black Reinforced’, which Sellars says was conjured up after the creative.
Having to create a line that sells the colour black in a new way is a challenge Sellars says, pointing out the lines ‘The Blackest Jersey Ever’ and 'Force of Black'.
However, he said when thinking up this year’s line, it was about leaving behind past campaigns and focusing on the jersey and how it’s been made, and it happened to be ‘Black Reinforced’.
While ‘The Blackest Jersey Ever’ was also creation of Augusto, Sellars says this is the first jersey reveal they have tackled alone, after "slowly clawing the creative off other agencies".
“Until now we have produced ads for the creatives out of Iris in Sydney, but now with this one we are taking the reins and we have managed to impress Adidas and deliver.”
The new jersey will make its debut on the field in Chicago next week, when the end of season tour begins. Daysh says it was a “really good opportunity and platform to launch the new jersey and [Adidas] think it is going to be fantastic”.
However, we will have to wait and see if the new jersey matches the popularity of the 2015 jersey, which Daysh says has been the most popular since Adidas started making them in 1999. That one featured gun metal logos and technology that no other rugby team had, as well as being the jersey worn for the World Cup win.