ZICO Hires VEB Exec to Head Up Sales, Preps for National Distribution

Scott Uzzell

As ZICO gears up for national distribution within the Coca-Cola Co. system, the coconut water marketer has announced that Scott Uzzell will join the company as Chief Commercial Officer and EVP of Sales. Uzzell, who is moving to ZICO from Coke’s Venturing & Emerging Brands Group (VEB), will take the top sales position from Mike Sharman, who is departing ZICO to take a position with “a start-up business in the pharmaceutical industry,” according to a statement released by the company.

“We’re thrilled to have Scott join ZICO,” said founder and CEO Mark Rampolla. “He’s a talented and seasoned executive who has a track record for building and leading great teams, creating winning strategies and delivering results: exactly what we need for our next phase of growth.”

Coke completed its purchase of a majority stake of ZICO in April 2012 and plans to fully integrate the coconut water brand into its bottling and distribution operations this year. The move will take ZICO national and into a new phase of development for the company. With Coke veteran Uzzell now on board, ZICO is “well prepared for continued exponential growth in the coming years,” Rampolla said.

The change in leadership and shift in distribution follows a marketing and public relations shake-up for ZICO earlier this year.  In what ZICO VP of Marketing Bill Lange called “an abbreviated RFP process,” the company hired Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners (BSSP) to develop the brand’s advertising creative and media strategy and Catalyst to head up its brand and product public relations efforts, including strategic counsel and media relations.

Based in Sausalito, Calif., BSSP,  which, in 2010, was named “Best Small Agency of the Decade” by Adweek, replaces ZICO’s former advertising agency, Ignited. Lange told BevNET that while Ignited continues to share office space with ZICO – “it’s not ideal on either side,” he said – the company was ready to move to a bigger shop, particularly at the level of growth that it expected in 2013.

Catalyst, which already represents Coke-owned Vitaminwater and Powerade brands, will look to continue homing in on ZICO’s message of supporting healthy and active lifestyles via a range of traditional and digital media channels. Lange noted that while ZICO’s media mix will likely remain the same as in previous years, its marketing will cover more geography and include and a stronger emphasis on creative efforts.

In support of the marketing initiatives, Lange said that in the coming months ZICO will launch a new casting call for its Team ZICO, a group of athlete endorsers that includes individuals from both the professional and amateur ranks including NBA players, yoga enthusiasts and long distance runners. Lange said that the new call would focus on authenticity, who, for Lange means “people who actually use” the product.

And while the company appeared to put the much-buzzed-about ZICO Latte on the back burner following its debut at the 2012 Natural Product Expo West show, Lange said that the product has been reformulated and that the company will look to initiate a staged roll-out of the flavor this year.

At the upcoming Expo West show in March, Lange hinted that ZICO will unveil innovation in packaging and formulation that, he said, could be “a real game changer” for the coconut water category.