SBD/Issue 162/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Vitaminwater Planning Full Marketing Campaign Around Kobe

Vitaminwater recently signed Lakers G Kobe Bryant to an endorsement deal, and Glaceau Senior VP/Marketing Rohan Oza said the brand is "going to do a full 360 degree campaign with him," according to Darren Rovell of CNBC. Oza: "One part of it is around the motto he's living by now -- Carpediem." Bryant last week was named the NBA MVP, and Oza said Vitaminwater signed Bryant because he is "one of the hottest athletes in the world." Coca-Cola, which bought Vitaminwater parent company Glaceau in May '07, dropped Bryant as an endorser after he was charged with sexual assault in '03, but Oza said Glaceau "operates as an independent unit within Coca-Cola." Oza: "We came up with the decision to go after Kobe because we're fans of his and we liked the fact that he was already drinking Vitaminwater" (CNBC.com, 5/13).

Bryant Beginning To Once Again
Be Face Of Marketing Campaigns 
ON THE RISE: In DC, Tim Lemke writes time will tell whether Bryant "will regain the level of appeal he once had," but his deal with Vitaminwater and an "expanded presence in other advertising campaigns suggest he is back on the rise as an endorser." Millsport Dir of Sponsorship Consulting Darin Perry said of Bryant, "His marketing is definitely on the uptick. We're a very forgiving society. It takes a little bit of time for all of the damaging elements to repair themselves." Bryant has "yet to regain endorsements from McDonald's, Nutella, Spalding and several other companies that dropped him" amid the sexual assault charges. Nike kept its relationship with Bryant "but used him sparingly until the criminal case was dropped and the civil case settled." Bryant now is "stepping back to the forefront, the main face of the company's campaign to promote its 'Hyperdunk' shoe." Lemke notes the Davie-Brown Index, which scores celebrities for "likability and recognition," shows that Bryant's image "has been improving since the end of last season." Bryant's "appeal" score has risen from 57 to 60 on the 100-point scale, but that still is "about 10 to 15 points lower" than Celtics C Kevin Garnett and Cavaliers F LeBron James. Also, while Bryant's "endorsement" score of 58.23 is "more than two points higher than last season," it is still "about 10 points lower than other top players." Meanwhile, figures from the NBA store in N.Y. and NBA.com show that Bryant's No. 24 jersey ranks second in sales among NBA players behind only Garnett (WASHINGTON TIMES, 5/13).

STILL A WAYS TO GO: Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom said of Bryant, "Before that rape charge, you couldn't turn on a television and not see him in some kind of commercial. Even his name was cute. ... Nobody says that about Kobe Bryant anymore. He may be popular and he may start to have an ad here or there, but he's not back to that marketable personality that he was before" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 5/11).

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