Sparkling ICE Signs Basketball Star and Fan Kevin Durant as Brand Ambassador

Sparkling ICE has begun to reveal its first major ad campaign, which stars the young NBA MVP Kevin Durant.

In advance of a full-blown TV advertising plan for 2015, the genre-defining sparkling-water brand isshowing a video about the production of the commercials with Oklahoma Thunder star Durant, hitting social media hard and even putting up billboards in his hometown (Seat Pleasant, Maryland), his college town (Austin, Texas) and his new base (Oklahoma City).

And for good measure, Sparkling ICE timed the campaign’s kickoff to coincide with Tuesday night’s debut of an HBO documentary, The Offseason: Kevin Durant, which the beverage company helped promote on its social channels.

The rising brand and the rising basketball star hit it off because Durant apparently told his representatives that Sparkling ICE “was the only beverage he wanted to be a part of,” as Kevin Klock, CEO of brand parent Talking Rain Beverage, told brandchannel.

“It’s what he drinks every day, all day. We had been looking for someone who was authentic to our brand and that was the most important part. We spent a couple months getting to know him and validating his fondness of the brand before making a final decision.”

With sales rocketing from a few million dollars to about $350 million last year and projected into a half-billion dollars this year, Sparkling ICE appeals to a large demographic—and so does Durant, Klock said. The brand hopes it will not only attract devoted Durant and NBA fans but also a much broader audience with the new campaign.

Klock said it also helps that Durant “understands social media, enjoys it and has a large following. As we continue our pursuit of being a global brand, social media will have to be an important aspect of our marketing strategy.”

It’s an impressive move for an emerging brand. As CNBC summarized the deal, “One of the NBA’s biggest stars just skipped over Pepsi and Coke to ink his latest endorsement deal (with an) upstart zero calorie company.”

Sparkling ICE, meanwhile, is facing significant competition from new sparkling-water brands as well as private-label offerings from retailers. Meanwhile, Klock is eyeing international expansion as well and plans to expand into other beverage category segments.

Durant recently signed a $300-million endorsement deal with Nike and also has had lucrative contracts with Kind bars, the NBA 2K video game series—not to mention the HBO special.

One brand that Durant evidently won’t be representing anymore? Gatorade.

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