Mark Rampolla, CEO of ZICO

Person of the Year
Giving an award to Mark Rampolla, CEO of ZICO Coconut Water, as opposed to the three main brands who won Product of the Year in 2009, doesn’t mean that ZICO has been anointed as the brand that’s pulling away from the pack. Instead, it means that Rampolla did, in 2010, the most innovative things for both his brand in the category. Earlier this year, when Rampolla and company appeared to have their backs against the wall with a potential lack of production for their flagship pure (not from concentrate) coconut water supply, he guided the company through a bold strategic shift by adding a new PET package filled with a from-concentrate formula. It’s a move that should not only protect the brand from future production shortages (it’s made in the USA with concentrate, which appears to be in much greater supply), but it also opened the doors to mainstream consumers, who, with a familiar PET bottle in front of them, have started reaching out for the brand. It’s also something that should further solidify the brand’s relationship with Coke’s Venturing and Emerging Brands Unit -- as the brand’s minority owner and logical strategic exit – Coke seems much more likely to get behind a product that’s made in the USA and packaged in PET. On that front, we commend Rampolla’s strategy.