The road to Twickenham is paved with sponsor enforced fan engagement sessions, pop-up promotional pain and selfie / signing session sleepiness, and AIG’s ABs have done nothing but since getting off the plane.
A back of the envelope calculation (researched off the news on the telly) has the All Blacks attending at least eight official functions or sponsors events in the two days since touching down, including an official welcome ceremony, a weird Q+A with JK at a pub, something to do with luxury goods outfit Bvulgari and a haka™ thing launch.
Yes, it’s all part of the deal nowadays – commercial partners who write the cheques have compulsary-fun-athlete-time written into contracts, while World Rugby have a tournament to promote, what, using their top All Black talent. We can only hope the team will be largely left alone to play rugby after getting this carry on over with at the start of the trip. Pray we won’t be blaming this ‘welcome’ for the unthinkable in six week’s time.
Still, it could have been worse. A dossier of rejected sponsors’ proposals for still more promos has been implausibly slipped under sportreview.net.nz’s hotel room door. They’ve thankfully been left on the drawing board. For now.
- Dan and Richie and Ant and Dec – two of our greatest ever take on their toughest opponent in Simon Cowell. Can they bag an ambitious X Factor / World Cup double, or will Simon’s tight tees and uncompromising feedback make him England’s 16th man?
- Leadership and Loving with Steve Hansen – the All Black head coach brings you a dawn Bikram Yoga session and motivational team talk in Hyde Park, followed by gluten-free breakfast and natural healing with Waisake Naholo. Brought to you by Sanitarium, except for the non-Christian bits.
- Bro, You’ve Been Punked – Sonny Bill Williams and Liam Messam dress as Dickensian urchins and pick-pocket tourists in Charing Cross for a Mastercard viral. Anyone who gives chase and succeeds in catching the two professional athlete-scallywags get to keep their valuables.
- Heineken Highway To Hell – Competition winners pit their drinking game against a panel of angry ex-All Blacks in an aggressive and uncompromising all day pub crawl. Participants *must* chop their piss for the duration and comply with all of Richard Loe’s instructions or face 1970s-style back of the bus hazing. Kiwi rules on the pool table.
- Selfie Stick Survivor – the ultimate in fan engagement. Competition winner and All Black of their choice have 24 hours to commit a Clockwork Orange-style crime spree without being caught on CCTV. It’s a money can’t buy experience, and forever more, that fan and All Black will ‘have something on each other’.