Forget about Buck’s testicles, let’s embrace the new rugby bling

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s 2011. 1987 was a while ago now. And while it must have been a very exciting time for Kiwis of yesteryear to win a Rugby World Cup, do we really have to point every element of tournament communication and design back to the glory days?

The Steinlager cans are white because “Steinlager has stood alongside the boys since the days of legends such as Kirk, Shelford and Whetton. As new legends have been made, Steinlager remains on the sideline, cheering them on, no matter the outcome.” The collars on the jerseys are white, “which pays tribute to the legacy of the All Black legend”. Mastercard has taken it a step further and lurched back to the salty grassroots with a campaign featuring Brian Lochore mumbling over the top of Kirk footage from 1987. Good grief.

Who are the new legends? Let’s allow them to shine. Why are we afraid to treat our professional athletes as the superstar global brands that they have the potential to be?

Heritage and mythology are a very important part of brand but you run a real risk of losing relevance to youth markets, especially female youth markets, if you ignore the badass-ness of X Games or the bling of NBA stars. We have the haka, the black shirts and the silver fern.

We need to preserve these elements but also keep the story relevant to highschool kids that have grown up with “Brand Beckham”, “Air Jordan” and streaming YouTube footage of Tony Hawk.

The raw ingredients are there to tell stories that are aspirational to youth. The success of the All Blacks Facebook page shows that people want to engage and are interested in connecting with the national team. The stars of the show are good looking, fit, and well paid. Yet when you travel overseas, the only All Black most people can name is still Jonah Lomu.

More back flips in the endzone. More highlighter orange boots, thank you Adidas. Fire up the shaved eyebrows and start creating some new stories that don’t involve Buck Shelford’s testicles. We need to see some new stars on the world stage and support them into successful careers with their own Playstation games, shoe lines and celebrity book tours.

The world has changed since 1987 and we don’t want to get stuck in a past that forces our players to go overseas to earn the money they deserve.


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