Top ranked American tennis player Andy Roddick has a new sponsor in his bag.
The 27-year-old, who took the title at the Sony Ericsson in Miami last week and is now ranked seventh in the world, will be the main spokesman for a new sports beverage called Aqiss (pronounced a-kiss).
The sports drink market is already well saturated with the likes of Gatorade and Powerade, whose huge marketing power is hard to resist, but Aquiss Beverage Technologies is confident that it’s unique formulation will help it blast through the clutter.
Company officials say that they have a patent-pending biotechnology that involves something called nano-encapsulated “payloads,” filled with electrolytes and antioxidants, that deliver the drink’s nutrients faster than any other sports beverage. The encapsulation process, they say, results in the drink getting into the bloodstream faster and protects it from the acidic stomach, which can destroy the necessary nutrients before they are absorbed.
“We’re moving hydration to the next level,” said Rudy Prajza, the company president, who has been in the beverage business previously as the worldwide account director for Coca-Cola while working at advertising agency McCann-Erickson. “Aqiss is essentially an oral IV. We start to see full absorption in minutes.”
Prajza said he picked Roddick because he was looking to find someone who is known to sweat a lot. Prajza said that athletes who sweat the most play tennis and squash and Roddick, he found, is in the top five percent of pro players in terms of perspiration.
"I sweat like three times more than average human does for whatever reason," said Roddick, who has been using the product since this year’s Australian Open. "I was definitely looking for something that could help with that and I haven't used anything better. It gets into my system much faster. I can feel it."
The product will come in two flavors, orange and lemon-lime, and will debut on the company’s Web site in May. Aqiss will be sold in Canada first and then in the United States. It will debut here in July, ahead of the US Open, when Roddick’s marketing power is at its height, with plans to unveil bottles it at retail at a major southern chain. The company will develop one product formulated for competitive athletes and one for everyday use.
Aqiss costs $3 for a two-ounce bottle of liquid concentrate. Drinkers than fill up the rest of the liter bottle with water.
“If think of it as a 20-ounce drink, it’s $1.69,” Prajza said.
This is Roddick’s third sports drink deal since turning pro in 2000. He has previously endorsed Powerade, and a signature product for Arizona Beverage, makers of Arizona Iced Tea.
This deal made sense, his agent Ken Meyerson said, because of the quality of the product and the financials of the deal. Roddick gets shares in the company.
"The good thing though is that Andy is hotter than ever," Meyerson said. "He’s playing great tennis and he is of course married to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover model (Brooklyn Decker).”
Prajza says Roddick will make a mint if the drink lives up to his expectations. He says he believes the company can do $200 million in sales in two years time, which would lead to the company being valued at more than $1 billion.
"It's definitely not your typical endorsement deal," Roddick said. "I'm at a point in my career where I don't need the quick hit deals. It will be nice to grow with this brand."
Prajza said the company will use a range of viral marketing on Facebook and Twitter to get the word out and will eventually have some limited television advertising.
Roddick also endorses Lacoste, Babolat, SAP, which he just renewed for another three years, and Lagardere, the management company that represents him. Aqiss will not have any branding rights on Roddick's shirt.
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