Craig Tirana – PRINZ associate member – Waiariki Institute of Technology
Think back to 2007, the French had just nobbled the All Blacks, Richie McCaw is pictured with his head in his hands while the darkness descended on New Zealand and our religion of rugby staggered on the ropes while public opinion rained blows in households, sports clubs, talkback and social media discussions.
The country reacted. Die hard fans walked away from the game, rugby had reached a new low. Forget see-no-hear-no-foward-pass referee Wayne Barnes, the New Zealand Rugby Union had its own problems four years out from hosting RWC 2011 and set about repairing their brand, engaging and informing fans and communities which eventually saw a “stadium of four million” rally behind the All Blacks who delivered the William Webb Ellis Trophy.
Today at WPRF Brian Finn gave an insight into that campaign. For me it really hammered home the importance of assessing stakeholder trust and engagement during the process of reconnection and building or, in this case, rebuilding the brand. As a result, the All Blacks became more community aware, visiting hospitals and schools and the momentum, picked up to RWC 2011 on the back of the “stadium of 4 million” and volunteer programs which pulled us in.
Also in this session we heard from Netball and Cricket Australia, both of which have had their challenges during the last few years. Netball is largely a participation led sport while cricket had become: Pale, Male and Stale according to Peter Young of Cricket Australia.
Like the rugby rebuild, both set about finding out what their stakeholders expected and altered their product and behaviours to support that. The players connected with fans and communities: the netballers became the Diamonds while 20/20 cricket appealed for a new breed of fans.
Brand issues are universal. Go the All Blacks!