In contrast to previous years, celebrity support wasn’t a large part of Natural Products Expo West this year. There weren’t even any Marilu Henner sightings (and what’s an Expo West without Nardo?) Nevertheless, alongside Damien Marley doling out hugs at the Marley Coffee booth, a pair of ethically-minded tea brands, Runa and Steaz, showed some high Q-Rating brand ambassador support in Anaheim to promote their products and drive booth traffic.
Both actor Channing Tatum, for Runa, and NFL all-pro Darrelle Revis, for Steaz, brought momentum into the show. Tatum had drawn raves for his performance in serious wrestling flick Foxcatcher and has become one of the world’s biggest box-office draws, even managing to draw big laughs as the leash-bound, leather-clad sex slave of Danny McBride in apocalyptic comedy The End. Revis, meanwhile, was fresh off a Super Bowl win with the New England Patriots, and, at the exact moment of the interview, was on the front page of every sports section in America as he vacillated between suitors in free agency (BevNET interviewer and hardcore Pats fan Neil Martinez-Belkin abandoned all objectivity in making what was ultimately an unsuccessful plea for Revis to return to his hometown team; perhaps disgusted by the sycophantic nature of local trade media Revis dissed him and went with the Jets).
So the star power was there; but how did they do while reppin’ the brand? Let’s go to the tape and see:
Note from the video that Tatum (helped by Runa CEO Tyler Gage) does a great job of doing what an investor in a purpose-driven brand should do — refer to that purpose. It’s hard to sound humble when using the phrase “billion dollars at the box office” but Tatum does so when he relates the product to his own line of work. Bonus points to Gage and co-founder Dan MacCombie for actually getting Tatum to appear in the exact same hoodie as the CEO, reinforcing their brottachment. Still, the pair get a little too cozy, with Gage strangely calling Tatum “Chan” (maybe a friendly nickname, but maybe negotiated terms only allow Runa the use of one syllable?) and maybe a little too much of a “yeah, man” wink-and-nod from Tatum about the pair’s adventures in the Amazon. But the guy is, you have to admit, mad good: He almost veers into “huh?” territory when he says he’s “not getting paid to be here,” which is sorta true, but sorta like not true as well, as he’s sure as heck not there to sample the granola either: he’s an investor, but then he immediately adds “I’m here because I really, truly believe in this thing,” and, dammit, he sells the line! The connection to the brand seems genuine. No wonder they greenlit Magic Mike XXL.
Now let’s take a look at the playbook that Steaz set up for Darrelle Revis:
Rather than promoting Steaz as a brand, Revis is at his best here when he’s promoting his own involvement with the product. He practically beams at the thought of handing the stuff out in the locker room, and makes a solid claim to having been a consumer for three years. He doesn’t get to how it benefits him or the larger product story all that well, simply saying “I felt it helped my lifestyle and what I bring to the table,” but if he doesn’t bring it all the way home, you still get the idea. Bonus points to the Steaz team for getting Revis to appear in not one, but two pieces of Steaz apparel, and that those pieces actually coordinate (you try wearing a Budweiser hat and shirt at the same time).
The question we have to ask here is why someone from the company didn’t insist on being in the video with Revis to reinforce the connection, especially since the poor guy has only been on board since January, and he’d had some pretty heavy work at his prime gig — one that involves lots of hits to the head — through early February. (Sure, that might have been the way we set up the shot, but come on, Steaz, you’ve GOT to back up your guy, even with pushy cameras around). At one point, the connection seems especially tenuous when he doesn’t seem to be exactly clear on what he’ll be doing as a brand ambassador — but again, he is there during a really busy week to chat with the hippies, isn’t he? And Revis does a Herculean job in solo coverage to remain on message, especially when he jukes any potential controversy about his ultimate destination as a free agent (AGAIN, Neil?) to return to talking about the product itself.
All in all, a pair of impressive performances from, let’s face it, some impressive performers. We can’t wait to see who the show brings in next year. We’re hoping for David Lee Roth.