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Volume 24 No. 116
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Social Studies: BodyArmor VP/Marketing Michael Fedele On Athlete Influencers

Despite being around for five years now, BodyArmor VP/Marketing Michael Fedele (@DrinkBodyArmor) is still surprised at the places the sports drink shows up on social media. A recent includes UFC 217 at MSG, where fighter Demetrious Johnson took a pic with Knicks F Kristaps Porzingis at ringside. Porzingis, a BodyArmor endorser, was holding a BodyArmor bottle in one hand. After Johnson posted the photo to his social media accounts, the image was picked up by several other media outlets. Fedele said, “We see the brand going everywhere.” Like many brands, BodyArmor places an emphasis on athlete endorsers, but many of those athletes also are investors in the company.

On Kobe Bryant not only being the third-largest investor, but the company’s creative director:
Kobe is an amazing storyteller, it’s what he has a passion for. The idea of our "Obsession is Natural" campaign was spawned by Kobe’s "obsessive" mentality on the court. He wanted to tell that story with the BodyArmor team of athletes. Kobe spoke to each of the athletes about their obsession. Kobe wrote the voice over for the larger campaign and each of the athletes collaborated to write their own story.

Must-follow: Have to give props to Darren Rovell
Favorite app: I find it intriguing what Adidas and Nike continue to do.
Average time per day on social media: Twenty minutes.

Growth of brand’s social media presence:
The main thing is authenticity and credibility about the product. We’re a better-for-you sports drink that tastes good. Our product is our best currency. It’s important if it’s an athlete influencer or a blue-collar guy or a mom buying for her family that takes to social to talk about the product that it’s credible and authentic. Spontaneity is key. If James Harden scores 56, BodyArmor is putting up content as soon as the buzzer goes off. We are very comfortable reacting quickly. We are comfortable being part of the conversation and starting the conversation.

Conveying authenticity:
It’s not really having to try to maintain it because it’s very real. That’s important for BodyArmor because there’s never been a No. 3 sports drink to build that consumer base from a product standpoint let alone from a social following. The James Hardens, the Porzingises, the Dustin Johnsons, the Richard Shermans help us do this. 

Pushing athlete investment on social media:
Not too much. They are very real, authentic and we have amazing relationships with our athletes, many of which are investors. Literally, everyone is all on board. We talk product innovation and marketing campaigns with every one of our athletes when we meet with them. Whether it’s our Chairman Mike Repole talking with Kobe, or Kobe coming to the office for meetings with our senior management team, Kobe talking to Porzingis and Mike Trout, Trout meeting with Ryan Blaney or me meeting with Andrew Luck or (WNBAer) Skylar Diggins -- it’s very real.

Feedback from athletes:
Weekly. Sometimes more often. Kobe is a big part of what we are doing. I was with Porzingis last week. Kobe speaks with Mike Trout directly. We’re in an environment where our athlete partners are part of what we are doing. They want to be part of driving change in the category and the next generation of consumers coming into the category.

Value of athletes as influencers:
They love the product. They use the product. They train with the product. It’s very natural for them to incorporate it in what they do. I don’t know the last time we asked an athlete to post something. We tell them we are going to be part of this amazing partnership with UFC or we’re going to be hydrating the Mayweather-McGregor fight and they get excited about it and want to tell people about the brand. Many other times, we hear stories like Dez Bryant hiding product in his locker so guys don’t take it.

Activating around UFC compared to individual athletes:
It’s slightly different from a social standpoint, but not very different. We continue to tap into the most topical, spontaneous news from the UFC just like we would any athlete partner via content and events. We are already working with dozens UFC athletes individually going into next year to amplify the partnership via some very unique content.

If you know anyone who should be featured for their use of social media, send their name to us at