Every brand needs a rugby player*

This Sunday the All Blacks will take on the United States in a widely hyped exhibition match in Chicago. While the United States certainly can’t be described as a rugby playing nation, all 61,500 seats at the Soldier Field have been sold out. Such is the star power of the All Blacks that they are capable of filling a stadium in a country where rugby ranks below badminton, ten-pin bowling and pro wrestling in terms of popularity.

And given the seeming supernatural ability of those who don the increasingly tight black shirts to make people interested in things that they don’t necessarily care about, it comes as little surprise that Kiwi brands have shown such a willingness to attach their labels to rugby players.         

Earlier this week, StopPress ran a story on the new Adidas campaign, which features Sonny Bill Williams getting deep and meaningful as he muses on the challenges of getting out of bed among other things. The spot forms part of the #leaveyourmark campaign, and it’s certainly fitting for a sportsman that has—with varying degrees of success—left his mark on three different sports.            

But Honey Bill’s shoulders aren’t the only rugby artifacts getting screen time these days. Richie McCaw has also been brought in as the ambassador of Movember to promote men’s health awareness. The All Blacks captain has over the last few years donned some upper lip fur to support the cause, and in a recent interview with Crowd Goes Wild he exhibited his experience by discussing his moustache strategies for this year. By the sounds of things, we will soon have a handlebar snapshot to add to the growing catalogue of McCaw moustache photos      

Auckland Transport has commissioned Jerome Kaino to teach Aucklanders “how easy it is to catch the bus, train or ferry”. In a series of four videos, the 6” 5′ juggernaut gives viewers a series of tips on how to go about using public transport. In addition to running the campaign via YouTube, Auckland Transport has also put Kaino’s visage onto some outdoor executions as well.   

Since starting his All Blacks career in 2003, Dan Carter has been a brand favourite. He has seduced for Griffin’s, derobed for Jockey and kicked copious rugby balls for Adidas. And now, he is taking his branding ambassador skills to Healtheries NZ in a new spot by Work Communications that features him being a regular—albeit insanely chiseled—Kiwi, engaging in a range of activities while talking up the health benefits of the supplements.    

Cory Jane signed up with Repco for Father’s Day earlier this year and another All Black doing his part for the nation’s brands is Kieran Reed, who last year signed on as Plumbing World’s ambassador. And while this role hasn’t seen him appear in a TVC at this stage, it has resulted in a collection of promotional material, including an online banner for Halloween that features Read holding his decapitated head.    

Feel free to tell us your favourite rugby-related endorsement in the comments. 

*Wendy’s has renewed its sponsorship of the Warriors for another three seasons, adding to its existing six year partnership. And while it’s not rugby, it’s been bringing the players into its promotions. 

“We love the way Wendy’s has gone about its partnership, adding excitement through its product innovations and the way our players are incorporated into television campaigns,” says Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah. 

A relationship that began in 2008 and progressed to an on-kit sponsorship in 2011, Wendy’s has so far promoted its involvement through a Vodafone Warriors burger, various in-store promotions and several TV ads featuring selected players.

Launching over the weekend, the chain’s latest TVC sees Vodafone Warriors players Manu Vatuvei, Sam Tomkins, Ben Matulino and Charlie Gubb ham it up in a tongue-in-cheek ad via &some and On Digital promoting its new Holy Guacamole range of guacamole-based burgers and nachos.

A take on the great 1974 satirical western comedy ‘Blazing Saddles’ and other old spaghetti westerns, the players don Wild West attire and fake accents and are helped along by props including a fake cacti, campfire and cowboy ranch backdrop.

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