By: Darren Heitner
Take a stroll through any part of Manhattan during NBA All-Star Week and you are bound to glance at an advertisement for beverage brand Sparkling ICE. The brand’s enormous ad spend surrounding the 2015 NBA All-Star Game includes the placement of 2 large billboards in Times Square featuring endorser Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder, as well as being featured on taxi toppers and van wrappings. It also served as presenting sponsor for a free concert in the Flatiron District of New York City hosted by Kanye West, which featured appearances by rappers Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz.
Yet, Sparking ICE does not want to be known as an athletic brand. It is spending a lot of money to raise brand awareness surrounding the NBA All-Star Game, but it has no intention of competing against traditional sports drinks like Gatorade , Powerade and newcomer BODYARMOR. Instead, Sparking ICE’s CEO calls his company a “ubiquitous brand.” That ubiquitous brand has taken an extreme liking to its basketball player endorser Kevin Durant and has singled out this week as one of major importance for its global brand building campaign.
“Kevin Durant opened an incredible amount of doors for us,” said Sparking ICE CEO Kevin Klock in an interview during NBA All-Star Week. ”We are using Kevin more-so as Kevin the person rather than Kevin the basketball player.”
Sparkling ICE taxi toppers dominating the streets of NYC for NBA All-Star.
However, Klock cannot help but notice how Durant has been able to not only spread a positive message about Sparking ICE to the general public, but also other star players within the NBA. Klock says it was an unexpected surprise to learn of the number of athletes drinking Sparking ICE, which includes athletes outside of basketball. For instance, Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall has admittedly fallen in love with the brand.
In addition to the 2 Times Square billboards branded with Sparkling ICE and Kevin Durant, the company has released a limited edition Orange Mango flavor featuring the All-Star and pushed out a special bottle containing Durant’s signature. 144,000 special bottles have been produced and distributed around New York City and Oklahoma City leading up to the NBA All-Star Game.
Klock says that Durant has helped tremendously with brand awareness, which remains extremely low despite growth of his company’s beverage sales. Sparkling ICE will work with Durant during the off-season on further development of his relationship with the brand, which will include more meaningful packaging influenced by the 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player.
The official title of Sparkling ICE’s current campaign is “Bold Taste. Bold Moves.” It launched in November 2014, but it took until now for the brand to truly begin activating. The boldest move may have been its meaningful association with the 1st Annual Roc city classic that featured Kanye West and allowed the brand to be situated next to companies like adidas and HTC.
Klock plans to shift the focus of his advertising spend to the music, entertainment, fashion and food industries. For the time being, the emphasis is on Durant NBA All-Star Week. If Klock’s goal was to increase awareness, then mission accomplished.
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