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Brita is eager to find out whether an NBA star's endorsement can do for water filters what it has done over the years for everything from soft drinks and sports drinks to apparel and restaurants.
The Clorox brand surprised some basketball fans when it announced that Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry would promote its water filters, and the idea of drinking more water in general, rather than teaming up with a larger beverage brand.
"He's really a great role model for that millennial consumer, and that's a direction that we want to make sure Brita is moving against effectively," said Jon Schlesinger, Brita's VP-marketing.
This week, Mr. Curry appeared at an Oakland, Calif., school to speak with students about the benefits of drinking water. Brita also announced a contest for people to come up with ideas for commercials about water, with the winning spot, set to air later this year, featuring Mr. Curry. First, Brita will promote its brand in a 30-second commercial featuring Mr. Curry.
The moves come as Brita tries to grow usage of its filters, especially among the younger crowd that Mr. Curry appeals to.
In the spot, Mr. Curry is surrounded by water as he takes shots on a CGI-infused basketball court and talks about water. Another one of his endorsements can be spotted in the Brita commercial, as he dribbles an Under Armour basketball, and wears that brand's clothing. "You are what you drink," he says near the end of the commercial, after taking a sip of water from a glass with the Brita logo on it.
Brita's use of Mr. Curry will bring it into more sports-oriented publications and programming than it has focused on before. The brand has a limited connection to basketball, as Brita is one of the brands that is part of parent company Clorox's sponsorship of the Golden State Warriors. It can only use the team's logo in advertising in a 75-mile radius, however, so most brand work shows him in a non-descript Under Armour jersey.
Meanwhile, Mr. Curry has an endorsement deal with Muscle Milk that dates back to 2013. The supplements maker plans to air new commercials with Mr. Curry beginning next month.
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Muscle Milk is trying to court a broader audience of active lifestyle consumers, said Nikki Brown, chief marketing officer at CytoSport, which makes Muscle Milk products including powders and drinks and was bought by Hormel Foods in 2014.
Historically, Muscle Milk has run short campaigns aimed at male viewers, including a 15-second commercial that featured Mr. Curry and aired in November.
As the brand tries to win over a broader range of active male and female consumers, it is stepping up its marketing. It plans to include Mr. Curry in 60-second, 30-second and 15-second spots that will begin airing April 19.
"He ties directly to the performance components of the brand but then also is somebody who has broad appeal and mass appeal," said Ms. Brown.
The new commercials will feature Mr. Curry, as well as everyday people participating in a broader array of activities, with the tagline "Stronger Everyday."
Mr. Schlesinger at Brita and Ms. Brown at Muscle Milk said they are not concerned about the number of endorsement deals their star has and say they appreciate his authenticity. Along with Brita and Muscle Milk, Mr. Curry's other endorsement deals include Under Armour, JP Morgan Chase, Degree, JBL and Kaiser Permanente. Mr. Curry declined to comment through Octagon, where he is represented by Octagon Basketball Managing Director Jeff Austin.
Mr. Curry is "potentially a very good spokesperson or candidate to reach or resonate with a younger audience," said YouGov BrandIndex CEO Ted Marzilli. YouGov BrandIndex Profiles' research suggests that Mr. Curry reaches a hard-to-target group of young men that spends a lot of time online, though he does not have a fan base as large as that for NBA star LeBron James.
For Brita, using Mr. Curry in advertising may trigger the reminder that people, including younger brand users, need to replace their filters more often. "You can get that initial purchase, but then it's reminding the consumer to continue" buying and changing filters, said Erin Lash, a Morningstar analyst who follows Clorox.
Another way the brand is trying to solve the reordering dilemma is testing a pitcher that instantly reorders filters with Amazon.
Clorox does not disclose media spending but according to data from Kantar Media it spent about $10 million on measured media for Brita last year. Brita's media spend will increase this year, as the brand goes back to print, where it has not appeared for some time. It will advertise in publications including Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine, Men's Fitness, Parents and People. It is also adding sports-related sites such as Sports Illustrated and NBA.com, in addition to out-of-home advertising. The commercial is set to appear during live games on ESPN, TNT and NBA TV.