American International Group Inc., the insurer that counts the U.S. government as its largest shareholder, will sponsor six New Zealand rugby teams including the world champion All Blacks.
The All Blacks will carry the logo of New York-based AIG on the front of their jerseys and the back of their shorts, the company’s Australian unit said in an e-mailed statement. Financial terms of the 5 1/2-year agreement weren’t disclosed.
By aligning AIG with a team that has won three-quarters of its international Test matches since 1903, Chief Executive Officer Robert Benmosche is trying to revive a brand that his predecessor Edward Liddy dismissed as “wounded and disgraced” in 2009 amid a U.S. bailout that swelled in value to $182.3 billion and was repaid last month. Benmosche is scheduled to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange next week as the insurer shows off a redesigned logo.
“The All Blacks’ winning tradition and reputation for tenacity, integrity and performance reflect attributes in AIG’s own culture,” Benmosche said in the statement. “We are extremely honored to be the All Blacks’ new front-of-jersey sponsor and excited by the benefits that come with the teaming of two world-class franchises.”
AIG, which announced a deal for the logo to appear on the U.S. rugby team’s uniforms this week, said its logo will also be carried on the front of the jerseys of the Maori All Blacks, All Blacks Sevens, New Zealand Black Ferns, New Zealand women’s sevens and men’s under-20 teams.
AIG has also sponsored record 19-time English soccer champion Manchester United. Aon Plc, the world’s largest insurance broker, has its emblem on the Red Devils’ jersey after replacing AIG in 2010.
AIG’s logo joins that of Adidas AG and the team’s silver fern emblem on the All Blacks’ jersey. Adidas, the world’s second-biggest sporting-goods maker, has sponsored the All Blacks since 1999 and four years ago extended its contract through 2019. Upon renewing the deal, CEO Herbert Hainer described the All Blacks as “one of the most inspirational and talented sports teams in the world.”
Adidas remains the principal partner of the New Zealand Rugby Union, the Wellington-based governing body said today.
Steve Tew, the NZRU’s CEO, said the decision to put another logo on the iconic All Blacks jersey “is not a step we have taken lightly.”
“We respect the rich and proud heritage of this extraordinary team and carefully weighed the change,” Tew said in the statement. “In the end, the AIG sponsorship is an unprecedented opportunity, and the best option to sustain the future of New Zealand rugby and grow the global game.”
New Zealand earned its first Rugby World Cup title since 1987 last year by winning the global championship’s seventh edition on home soil.
Under new head coach Steve Hansen, the team has won all nine of its matches this year to extend its winning streak to 16 straight Tests, lifting it within two of setting a record for consecutive victories by a top-tier rugby nation. New Zealand and South Africa share the elite mark of 17 straight successes.