Sparkling Ice Launches Campaign Featuring NBA MVP Kevin Durant

Sparkling Ice has kicked off a campaign featuring Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder forward and 2014 NBA MVP.

The brand, which announced the partnership with Durant in July, is describing the initial digital advertising as “preliminary” to a full-blown campaign to launch in 2015 and run during the 2014-15 NBA season.

The creative for the campaign, dubbed “The Bold and the Best” is from the Jim Walker Seattle advertising and branding agency.

The initial elements include a digital campaign (screen capture above) on ESPN.com and The Bleacher Report, and a video featuring behind-the-scenes footage of Durant being shot for what appears to be a TV spot, or spots.

The campaign’s kickoff was timed to coincide with the Nov. 4 debut of an HBO documentary, “The Offseason: Kevin Durant,” which Sparkling Ice is promoting on its social channels, including Twitterand Facebook.

Sparkling Ice billboards featuring Durant are on view in three high-trafficked areas of significance to him, including his home town,  Seat Pleasant, Maryland; the city where he played college ball, Austin, Texas; and his new team’s home, Oklahoma City.

The campaign has a #BoldandBest site, currently featuring the behind-the-scenes video and promotion of the HBO special.

According to an ABC News report in July, the partnership with Sparkling Ice was born when Durant switched agents and told new agent, Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports, that he was a genuine, long-time fan of the beverage brand.

The hook-up also meshed with Sparkling Ice’s needs. At a time when traditional carbonated soft drinks are continuing to see their sales erode, zero-calorie, flavored, carbonated Sparkling Ice is among the fastest-growing beverage brands in the country. Its sales leapt from $25 million in 2010 to a projected $500 million in 2014.

But as always, success inspires imitation — including lower-priced private-label versions from grocery retailers. In addition, Sparkling Ice is eyeing international expansion.

“We frankly hadn’t moved into athlete endorsements because we craved authenticity,” explained Kevin Clock, CEO of Sparkling Ice’s parent, Talking Rain Beverage Co. “Things fell into place when Kevin came to us.”

The brand will employ Durant as an ambassador as it expands beyond North America and Mexico – as well as in its plan to expand into other beverage category segments, Clock said.

Durant was a Gatorade endorser until last September. His endorsement deals have also included Kind bars and the NBA 2K video game series.

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