Food & Beverage

Carrie Underwood signs equity deal with sports drink maker Bodyarmor

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Key Points
  • Bodyarmor is branching out beyond athletes. Country music singer Carrie Underwood will join the brand.
  • As part of the deal, Underwood will get an undisclosed equity stake in Bodyarmor.
  • The former American Idol winner also has a successful apparel line with Dick's Sporting Goods and a fitness app.
Source: Bodyarmor

One of country music's biggest stars is getting in on the sports drink wars.

Bodyarmor announced on Monday that seven-time Grammy award winning singer Carrie Underwood will be its first celebrity endorser as the sports drink maker looks to broaden its appeal. As part of the deal, Underwood will get an undisclosed equity stake in the company and will appear alongside James Harden in Bodyarmor Lyte's first-ever television campaign, debuting Monday during "The Bachelor." She will also appear in advertising for Bodyarmor's premium SportWater product.

"I have spent probably the past 15 years working on myself and falling more and more in love with health and fitness," Underwood told CNBC. "So it just all ties it together and I love that I've been able to create this big web of health and fitness things going on in my life."

Underwood joins an impressive roster of endorsers to the brand including NBA star James Harden, PGA golfer Dustin Johnson, MLB's Mike Trout, pro tennis player Naomi Osaka and soccer star Megan Rapinoe. The late Kobe Bryant was one of the original investors in Bodyarmor and was instrumental in taking the brand mainstream.

Underwood said while she's obviously not a professional athlete (although she jokes that singing can be hard physically, too), she believes she can help open doors for Bodyarmor by reaching a new audience.

"I get to talk to working moms and people like me because that's what I do and that's what I know," she said.

"Carrie is what we're seeing in a lot of consumers. ... She's a mom and she's a wife. She's got two kids and she's on the run, and she leads this hectic lifestyle and she has a need for healthy hydration," said Mike Repole, CEO and founder of Bodyarmor.

Underwood said one of the things that was attractive about this deal is the fact that she was offered an equity stake in Bodyarmor.

"You want to be personally invested in the company being successful. It's definitely a motivator just to be in it and be working and getting his product to as many people as possible," she said.

Underwood's business portfolio has grown rapidly over the last decade. The country singer first gained fame in 2005 after winning American Idol. She has gone on to sell more than 64 million records worldwide. She's appeared in television, film, is the voice of NBC's Sunday Night football and is also a best-selling author.

She's also been very active in the fitness space. Nearly six years ago, she ventured into fitness apparel with the launch of CALIA by Carrie Underwood, a workout line created exclusively for Dick's Sporting Goods. The lifestyle brand has seen rapid success, becoming the second most popular women's brand for the sporting goods retailer. In December, Dick's introduced its first pop-up stores with the brand.

This year, Underwood introduced a fitness app called FIT52 in collaboration with her longtime personal trainer Eve Overland. It was inspired by Underwood's passion for an active lifestyle, she said.

The singer's latest partnership aligns perfectly with her personal mission to ensure that health and wellness is at the forefront of everything she does.

"I'm so fortunate to have been able to build my passion for health and fitness into a business model and personal brand I can stand behind and be proud of," she said.

Bodyarmor was founded in 2011 by businessman and beverage industry veteran Mike Repole, who previously helped found Glaceau, the maker of Vitaminwater. The brand is the third largest sports drink on the market, with 13% of the category's sales, according to data from Beverage Digest.

Bodyarmor rang up a billion dollars in sales last year, up 70% from 2019, Repole said. Sales were helped, in part, by Coca-Cola's purchase of a minority stake in 2018, which has led to increased visibility and distribution.

"They are definitely one of the fastest-growing sports drinks, for sure," said Duane Stanford, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest. "They've been able to actually sustain significant growth rates, which has been really interesting."

Repole's goal is to dethrone industry leader Gatorade, which is owned by PepsiCo and controls 70% of the market.

"I wanted to be the number one sports drink by 2025," he said. "I said that back in 2011. A lot of people laughed."

"Gatorade right now is five times our size," he continued. "10 years ago, they were 500 billion times our size. So we've closed the gap, from 500 billion to five times our size."

Taking the brand more mainstream through endorsements like Underwood's is one of the ways he expects he will get there.

"The other traditional sports drinks don't go outside of the athlete box, and you know Bodyarmor has always been innovative always been different," he said.

Disclosure: Comcast's NBCUniversal is the parent of CNBC.

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