Going by stereotypes, it might seem an odd enough pairing to inspire a Saturday Night Live sketch: kombucha and the NFL. But on Wednesday, Humm Kombucha announced its new title as the official kombucha of the Seattle Seahawks. All nine of the Bend, Oregon-based brand’s flavors are now available for purchase at CenturyLink Field’s new Grab and Go Market and Humm’s two best-selling flavors – Pomegranate Lemonade and Coconut Lime – are also available for sale on tap at the stadium.
“We couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to work with the Seahawks,” Humm co-founder Jamie Danek said in a press release. “Fans will be happy to see another option for a healthy, low-sugar beverage. And we get to work with one of the most successful, forward-thinking and community oriented teams in the league. It’s a huge win for us.”
Danek discussed the partnership further in a call with BevNET Wednesday, praising the “progressive nature” of the Seahawks organization and also revealing plans to kick off a month-long sampling campaign at the stadium’s Touchdown City fan center on Nov. 1, when the Seahawks host the Dallas Cowboys. It’s here where Danek and co. will take on the task of introducing kombucha to a demographic not typically associated with the greater natural and organic foods category that kombucha is embedded within.
“The kombucha market is saturated in the health foods space but that’s not just who we target,” Danek added. “We’re about the masses. We’re about accessibility. So we wanted to put our resources towards getting people to try Humm, which has the palatability to reach the everyday, American consumer.”
The happenings at Humm reflect a greater expansion of the parameters of the “big four” sports leagues’ approach to marketing for the beverage industry, which has classically been defined by sports drink endorsements for the likes of products like Gatorade, Powerade and Body Armor. (New age beverages and emergent sports like skateboarding and snowboarding have long, intertwining histories.) Earlier this year Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson became an investor and advocate for Reliant Recovery Water, an endorsement that got the Super Bowl XLVIII winner in a bit of hot water after he claimed the product helped keep him from receiving a concussion.
Earlier this year New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis signed on as a brand ambassador for Steaz, an organic green tea beverage brand. In March, fellow NFL stars Robert Griffin III, Brian Orakpo and Jerry Hughes became investor and spokespersons for D.B. Miller, makers of Texas Tea. Devin and Jason McCourty, who play for the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans, respectively, have been repping tart cherry juice brand Cheribundi since 2012. And Vita Coco continues to add to its roster of pro-athletes co-signing the coconut water, this year bringing on four NFL players, Boston Red Sox center fielder Mookie Betts and Clint Dempsey of the Seattle Sounders.
The widening of the scope of sports marketing also extends beyond the beverage category into the world of food. Just last month, plant-based protein brand Beyond Meat unveiled a lineup of athlete ambassadors whose talents span the NBA, WNBA, MLB, AVP and World Surf League. Healthy frozen foods company Luvo lists New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter as well as Russell Wilson and olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin as its reps, while Houston Texan Arian Foster endorses Health Warrior, a line of chia bars.