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EXCLUSIVE: How Alkaline Water Signed Shaquille O'Neal As Brand Ambassador

EXCLUSIVE: How Alkaline Water Signed Shaquille O'Neal As Brand Ambassador

The Alkaline Water Company Inc. (NASDAQ: WTER) has recruited basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal as the brand ambassador for its Alkaline88 product line.

In an exclusive interview with Benzinga, Alkaline's president and CEO Ricky Wright detailed how and why his company came to join forces with the sports icon.

Shaq Gets Happy: Alkaline Water took “12 or 14 months to find the right ambassador,” which included extensive data research to find a prominent individual in alignment with its brand messaging, Wright said. 

“We're the happy hydration company,” said Wright. “We know for a fact that when people drink our water, they talk about the great taste, how delicious it is and how it makes them feel better. We're about being happier, healthier and cleaner.”

The challenge, Wright continued, was identifying a brand ambassador who personified the concept of having a positive attitude. The answer, he added, was obvious.

“Shaq is the kind of guy that meets our brand,” he said. “When you look at Shaq, you always think, ‘there's a happy guy.’ Right? I mean, there's no ifs, ands or buts about it. His personality is perfect for this brand.”

The Right Person: O’Neal is no stranger to product endorsements — indeed, his ubiquity as a celebrity spokesperson has been so dominant that USA Today dubbed him “the king of endorsements” in 2019.

Alkaline Water connected with Authentic Brands Group, the marketing and entertainment company that serves as the strategic partner of the Shaquille O’Neal brand.

Although O’Neal is already highly visible in his endorsement work on behalf of brands including Gold Bond, Icy Hot, The General and Kellogg’s (NYSE: K) Frosted Flakes, Wright felt O’Neal was the right choice after meeting with the Basketball Hall of Famer.

“Shaq is a super smart guy and super creative,” he said. “I truly believe that after meeting him and working with this team that the guy's a creative genius.”

And that’s not just flattery — O’Neal’s relationship with Alkaline Water places him as a member of the company’s board of advisors and as an equity partner.

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Opening Doors With Shaq’s Key: Wright pointed out that O’Neal will not just be a famous face on an advertisement, but will play a crucial role in expanding the Alkaline88 brand’s awareness as the company expands its retail presence, both domestically and overseas.

“We think Shaq's presence will help on that,” he said. “Shaq is a kind of an icon in Asia and 88 is the luckiest number in China, so we think we've got a good shot in the Asian markets.”

Wright is also seeking to further the Alkaline88 presence throughout the hospitality sector, in grocery retail and in gyms and health clubs. With O’Neal on board, he said, it could be easier to close deals.

“We believe with our current relationships we already have in place, in terms of distributors and brokers, and with the addition of Shaq’s star power, there will be huge opportunities,” he said. “Shaq is an accelerator — he is an awareness accelerator that we think will pay big dividends for this brand.”

(Photo of Shaquille O’Neal courtesy of The Alkaline Water Company.)


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