The New Zealand Rugby Union is on a mission to prop up the national game with more corporate money. Last year, AIG stuck its name on the All Black jersey. And now Pink Batts has signed up for a three year sponsorship deal that will see New Zealand's referees stepping out in pink for the Investec Super Rugby, ITM Cup and renamed Pink Batts Heartland Championship. But, unfortunately for some sporting sadists, they won't be forced to wear actual Pink Batts like the 2008 Snug campaign.
While Colin Meads and his ilk will presumably be aghast at anyone wearing pink on the rugby field, the refs, in a similar fashion to their counterparts in the National Rugby League competition, the deal means they will wear pink socks, shorts and shirt. The new strip, which will carry the catch-line 'Another Good Call', will make its debut next weekend in round two of Investec Super Rugby when the Highlanders host the reigning champions, the Chiefs in Dunedin and the Hurricanes host the Blues in Wellington.
"We are delighted to have Pink Batts join our rugby team of sponsors and they do so in a significant way through sponsorship of referees across three levels of competition," says NZRU chief executive Steve Tew. "We're also thrilled Pink Batts is taking on naming rights for the Pink Batts Heartland Championship, which hasn't had a title sponsor for some years. This will certainly help the profile of what is an important tier in our domestic competitions."
As per, details of the deal weren't released, but Pink Batts general manager Tony Te Au says it's proud to get in behind referees and show support for the game's unsung heroes.
"Referees are crucial to each and every game of rugby; they are the backbone of the game," he says. "As a company we wanted to get in behind them and show our support - not just visually but behind the scenes as well. We're thrilled that because of our iconic colour the referees will really stand out and be noticed. And we're working with the NZRU to develop additional mentoring opportunities for refs."
Sponsorship isn't just about names on hoardings and colourful uniforms, and Pink Batts national marketing manager Dion Hurinui says it's inviting fans to join the 'Pink Batts 'Another Good Call Movement'.
"We have some really fun, interactive activities planned for the games that will celebrate the refs," he says (StopPress suggests playing the classic Pinky ad as the refs run out onto the field). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZjGyYFveno
New Zealand referee Chris Pollock said: "If wearing pink means we can encourage more people to be involved in refereeing at all levels of the game, and that more people recognise that refereeing can be great fun, then I'm all for it."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=it7hr78HLKgAfter having basically no competition for years, imported insulation has given Pink Batts a bit of a scare recently and claims were made by German company Knauf that its product was half the price of Fletcher's Pink Batts brand. So, along with the recent 'Getting Warmer' brand campaign by DDB, this sponsorship decision fits in well with the desire to give the brand more prominence.