Richard Kahui models and All Black shirt with the AIG logo.
Insurance giant American International Group says it has
already got business benefits from its sponsorship of the All
Chief executive of AIG Insurance NZ, Cris Knell, said the
firm had got a number of leads since announcing its five-year
deal in October.
Although the All Blacks deal is AIG's big international
sports sponsorship, in New Zealand it hopes to use it to
build brand recognition and move beyond its mainly small
business and corporate focus.
The company also suffered brand confusion with IAG - owner of
NZI, AMI and State Insurance brands - and he said it was
important to differentiate itself.
"We also have an ambition in the group to put more emphasis
in consumer business," Knell said.
This could include travel insurance. Based on Insurance
Council statistics, AIG had roughly 3.3 per cent of a total
insurance market in New Zealand worth almost $4 billion.
Knell said from 2006 to 2010 AIG sponsored Manchester United
primarily as a way of building brand recognition in Asia.
"We used to be the biggest company that nobody had heard of."
That changed in 2008 when on the brink of collapse it
required the first of its bailout funding which reached
Last month it repaid the last of the funds after it sold
assets, scaled back on derivative bets and halved its staff
to around 60,000.
The decision to look for a new big international brand came
as the company's financial rehabilitation neared completion.
"When we first started looking at this situation this was
predicated ... on the recovery path to make full repayment of
the US taxpayer support," Knell said.
"We really felt that as an organisation we had a lot of pride
in coming through the challenges that we were faced with and
we wanted to be able to associate with this [team]."
AIG's director of global branding Mark Clowes said the
company worked for almost a year before taking the plunge
with the All Blacks.
"All the research we've seen is that the All Blacks is an
extremely large brand," Clowes said.
"We looked at a lot of different sports properties and did a
lot of research and due diligence on this and in terms of an
iconic prestigious franchise - and by most measures with the
winningest record in sport - we viewed that as a winning
The appearance of the AIG logo on the All Blacks jersey
coincided with a couple of setbacks, a disappointing draw and
a trouncing by England at Twickenham, mirroring another
result at that ground against France in 1999 when then new
sponsor adidas had come on board.
Clowes said AIG was not worried.
"Those are short term one-offs - we're in this relationship
for five plus years and well potentially past that so it's
not a concern at all."
- Grant Bradley of the New Zealand Herald