Sugar & Partners has been named as the Blues lead strategic and creative agency after a competitive pitch, with the long-time incumbent Big deciding not to participate in the review.
“The credentials and strategy based review process was refreshingly well run and respectful," says managing partner Jeremy Johnston in a release. "We were also excited by the single-minded ambition the Blues team has on building a world-class sporting organisation."
It's not clear which agencies were involved, but Big's managing director Ant Salmon says the agency has done every Blues campaign since 2002, so "it was probably time someone else had a crack".
"I can't deny we are a little sad to see it go, but fortunately we continue to be retained by the Blues to run the True Blues membership activity, as well as some other sponsorship related projects," he says. "As fellow fans of the Blues, we wish Sugar & Partners all the best."
The Blues have been struggling to live up to their potential on the field in the past few years, but off the field, it has struck up a new ownership structure, with a new partnership acquiring a license to operate the franchise until 2020.
The new limited liability partnership means Rugby Holdings Ltd, which is comprised of the three provincial rugby unions, Auckland, North Harbour and Northland, now holds a 60 percent share and Bolton Equities Ltd, a private investment company run by Murray Bolton, has a 40 percent stake.
Last year, the Blues and Big tapped into the supporter-focused sentiment with its Join the Game campaign.
"With 86,000 fans Liking the team on Facebook and 26,000 following us on Twitter we know what whenever we take the field our crowd number is so much more than just the number of people at the game or watching on TV," it says in a release. So it asked all its fans to join in.
The ad for a Crusaders game featured a real fan, Haven Crawford, a passionate Blues supporter who's at every game in her Blues jersey.
"I've never had so many likes, mentions and re-tweets for one post before, but once again the main thing is getting the seats at the stadium filled so I hope the attendance on the night reflects that."
In the end, 26,211 turned up for the game, which is pretty good considering 2013's average attendance, according to Wikipedia, was 19,661 (the highest attendance was 31,014 and the lowest was 10,811).
In the spirit of ‘Join the game’, rather than the traditional folded arms, staunch looks and bad puns, each of the players was asked to take their own ‘selfie’ for the team poster, which added a bit of personality to proceedings. And space was left for fans to add their own shot.