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Customer story: Creative Hype print Print

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Cardboard helmets are taking this Kiwi start-up business around the world.

It all started with some old rugby headgear in the back of a wardrobe, left over from entrepreneur Clay Caird’s rugby playing days.

It was at the height of World Cup fever in 2011 when Clay, then a sports-mad Otago University student, started toying with the potential of cardboard versions of players’ headgear.

Customer story Creative Hype 1

Clay Caird of Creative Hype with Charlie Howe, ANZ Regional Manager, Central Region.

His idea was simple – cardboard replica rugby headgear, emblazoned with team and sponsors’ logos, designed as a free in-stadium giveaway to fans. Fans would wear the headgear in support of their team and the headgear would act as an engaging branding vehicle for sponsors.

Just a few months later, with personal funds and some money from his bank, ANZ, he turned his invention into a sport marketing tool, which he is now exporting to the world. And so his business Creative Hype was born.

Although Clay was too late for the World Cup, the NRL quickly snapped up his first product, the Footy Lid™, and since those days, Creative Hype has supplied products to Super 15, NRL and State of Origin in New Zealand and Australia.

Customer story Creative Hype 2

Creative Hype promotional sports helmets designed as a free, in-stadium giveaway to fans and platform for sponsors.

In the UK, he has won contracts with the English RFU for 6 Nations and London Sevens activations at Twickenham. A cricket helmet has also been launched and used extensively by the England Cricket Board.

Clay says support from ANZ has been important in the early stages of Creative Hype and the relationship with his Christchurch Business Banking Manager Sam Wilkinson has been key.

“Usually unless you’ve got physical assets, banks can be reluctant to lend money. We’re not a traditional business, our biggest asset is our IP and we don’t have much in the way of bricks and mortar to leverage. But ANZ has always helped me as much as they can.”

Developing a solid business plan was also important to shape Creative Hype into more than just an idea in Clay’s mind. Clay says that entering and winning the 2014 ANZ Flying Start Business Plan Competition was an important milestone in the success of his business.

“When you are living and breathing a company, you get caught up with the day-to-day. The ANZ Flying Start competition forced me to step back and work on the business, not just in it.

“And as we have grown and our needs have changed, the bank has come to the party and helped us out.”

Clay says the online resources available through ANZ’s Biz Hub and the bank’s network of experienced Business Specialists is invaluable.

“ANZ has provided more than a financial resource; it’s also been a business resource, a kind of mentor really.”

Clay’s advice to other young companies: build good relationships, have a clear set of brand values (and stick to them), write a business plan and make marketing a top priority.

“A key lesson is that everything you do is marketing.  How you deal with clients; the quality of your products; everything about the “face” you present to the world communicates something about your brand.  Creative Hype has been built on innovation, creativity and attention to detail.  I won’t compromise on anything which impacts on these.”

Now three years on and having sold one million units into the rugby and cricket markets, Clay is excited about the prospect for Creative Hype in North America and globally. Plans are to expand into baseball, American football, ice hockey and motorsport. This is one Kiwi business to watch.


Need to write or review your business plan? Our top tip is to keep it short and simple. Check out 'How to write a simple business plan,' which includes a helpful step-by-step template.

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