After we reported that Kobe Bryant had signed with Vitaminwater, we wanted to hear from the folks at Coca-Cola's Glaceau division as to why they decided to go after Bryant.
It was intriguing because Coca-Cola was one of the companies that let Bryant's deal expire following his sexual assault charge about five years ago. That doesn't mean I don't think it was a good move. So I sat down with Rohan Oza, the brand's senior vice president of marketing, to talk about why they signed the league MVP.
Darren: Why did you sign Kobe?
Rohan: The bottom line is Kobe is one of the hottest athletes in the world and we're the hottest beverage in the country, so it made sense.
Darren: You always say sports endorsements work better when athletes use the brand.
Rohan: And we knew that Kobe has been drinking Vitaminwater for some time now whether on the court or off of it when he's coaching his daughter's soccer team. People don't have a problem believing that Kobe drinks Vitaminwater because he does. That's unlike some other traditional endorsements where it's just a product placement. We don't do product placement.
Darren: Everyone was wondering what blue chip brand would be next with Kobe. He has his deals with Nike and Upper Deck and Sony might do something more, but I was somewhat surprised that a Coke brand gave him a try. Tell me about that decision with the higher ups.
Rohan: Glaceau operates as an independent unit within Coca-Cola. That was a smart decision made by their management when they acquired us. Keeping the people and culture together that made us so successful is the reason why we've had so many years of triple digit growth. So we came up with the decision to go after Kobe because we're fans of his and we liked the fact that he was already drinking Vitaminwater and that was it.
Darren: What are your future plans with Kobe?
Rohan: We're going to do a full 360 degree campaign with him. One part of it is around the motto he's living by now --Carpediem (seize the day).