BodyArmor Adds (Ray) Rice To Marketing Mix To Whet Sports Drinkers' Thirsts

By Barry Janoff

October 5, 2012: Sports teams stockpile top players in order to have the best opportunity to defeat the competition, so it makes sense that brands in the competitive sports and energy drink category would do the same thing.

BodyArmor SuperDrink, a relative newcomer to the category — having launched in May 2011 — has boosted its roster with the addition of Ray Rice, running back for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens. Like the other athletes aligned with the brand, Rice comes in not only as a marketing spokesperson put as an "investor and partner."

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

BodyArmor is trying to reach consumers in a crowded field of sports nutrition and energy drinks that includes the likes of Gatorade, PowerAde, Vitaminwater, Red Bull, Amp, Monster, Rockstar and a new and burgeoning category of coconut-water brands such as Vita Coca, Zico and PowerCoco.

The risks and rewards are significant for those in the category. The global sports and energy drinks market surpassed $40 billion in 2010 for the first time and is expected to reach $52 billion by 2016, nearly 40% of sales in North America, according to a recent report from market research and consulting firm MarketsandMarkets, Dallas.

Rice joins the Los Angeles-based BodyArmor just weeks after the signing of MLB rookie star Mike Trout (pictured) of the Los Angeles Angels.

"Proud to join the BodyArmor Superdrink team," Rice wrote to his more than 330,000 followers on Twitter. "Best nutrition and hydration for gameday."

Rice, now in his fifth season with the Ravens, is part of a BodyArmor roster of athlete investors and partners that also includes NFLers Rob Gronkowski (New England Patriots), LeSean McCoy (Philadelphia Eagles) and Jason Pierre-Paul (New York Giants). BodyArmor has also donated camps run by Major League Lacrosse star Jordan Burke.

In addition to its athlete investors, BodyArmor comes with a strong heritage. Its executive ranks include founder/CEO Lance Collins, also the creator of Fuz Beverage and Nos Energy Drink (sold to the Coca-Cola Co. in 2007); and chairman Mike Repole, co-founder and president of Vitaminwater (also sold to Coca-Cola in 2007), who also has been a major investor in Pirate's Booty.

BodyArmor made headlines this past July when it publicly responded to a trademark infringement lawsuit filed in April by sports apparel and footwear company Under Armour. Baltimore-based Under Armour also objected to BodyArmor's use of the tag line, "Protect + Restore," which Under Armour said too closely mirrored its tag line, "Protect This House."

According to a statement from BodyArmor, which says its name and bottle design were trademarked in 2007, “Under Armour's claim against BodyArmor is without merit. It is nearly impossible that consumers or retailers of either brand would confuse the two. Under Armour and BodyArmor operate in disparate industries, produce distinctly unrelated products, and share no branding or logo similarities.”

The lawsuit is still pending.

Perhaps not so coincidentally, Under Armour is based in Baltimore, where BodyArmor's newest investor/endorser is situated during the NFL season and where the Ravens practice at the Under Armour Performance Center.

Like the other athletes associated with the brand, Rice will be involved in marketing, promotions and in-person events as well as product testing. The alliance will also support The Ray Rice Charitable Fund, which primarily aids youths through mentorship in the Baltimore, Md. and New Rochelle, NY areas.

“Ray is considered elite because he never settles for anything less than super and continues to prove he is one of the top running backs in football,” Collins said in a statement. “Ray’s game is multifaceted as he excels in all areas when on the field, just as BodyArmor SuperDrink is multifaceted and delivers all of the nutrition and hydration benefits that today’s athlete needs.”

According to Rice, “I learned early on that in order to perform as a professional athlete I have to consume the right nutrition and hydration. The benefits that BodyArmor SuperDrink provide are key to my performance, whether I need to gain that extra yard or grind through the fourth quarter.  It’s the real deal.”

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