By Barry Janoff
April 13, 2015: Reebok, which has been sweating hard to establish itself as a global leader in the fitness category, has signed a pair of endorsement deals intended to enhance its position while also expanding its potential consumer base.
The sports brand has inked what it called a "breakthrough partnership' with Justin "J.J." Watt, the all-Pro defensive end for the NFL's Houston Texans, as part of Reebok's “Be More Human” integrated marketing campaign.
The theme, according to Reebok, is a "rally cry for people to push themselves out of their comfort zone to fulfill their human potential. JJ Watt has teamed up with Reebok to inspire and motivate people everywhere to reach their full potential through fitness."
In a separate deal, Reebok has signed a strategic licensing partnership SMS Audio, LLC, the audio headphone and accessories brand founded and run under the auspices of musician Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson.
The alliance makes SMS Audio Reebok’s official fitness headphone licensee across Reebok’s global market, with plans for co-branded headphones to hit the market later this year.
Financial terms for the two deals were not released.
The Watt deal gives Reebok its first NFL endorser since being replaced by Nike in 2012 as the league's official on-field apparel supplier following a ten-year alliance. Watt will not be able to wear Reebok cleats during NFL games due to lead deals with other brands, including Reebok parent company adidas.
"For Reebok, J.J. perfectly represents what it means to ‘Be More Human’ as he challenges himself to reach the absolute limits of what is possible,” Chris Waldeck, vp for Reebok US, said in a statement. “Not only is J.J. the embodiment of that belief, he is an incredibly inspiring athlete who can spread that message further.”
Watt joins a roster of Reebok athletes known that includes gold-medal winning gymnast Aly Raisman, UFC fighters Ronda Rousey, Jon Jones, Anthony Pettis and Conor McGregor, and such top CrossFit athletes as Rich Froning and Annie Thorisdottir.
According to Watt, “Most of my life has been spent in a gym, on a field or wherever I could find a space to train. I don’t train to be the best football player, I train to be the best athlete. Period. My partnership with Reebok is centered around the goal of inspiring people to push themselves harder and farther than they ever have been before to reach their full potential. Fitness is something that should be important to every person on this planet. So join the movement and start training. It’s time to work.”
The 6'5", 290 lb. Watt celebrated the signing by jumping a person-best 5’ 1” atop a stack of boxes while wearing a pair of Reebok ZPump Fusions, the video of which went viral and even made in onto ESPN's SportsCenter.
On her Facebook page, the 5'2" Raisman wrote to Watt, "You could box-jump over my head (but) let's never try that."
“We saw him fail his first attempt at a 5’ 1” box jump, and we saw him try again until he accomplished it.," said Reebok's Waldeck. "That simple act — trying, failing, and trying again — locked it in for us. Being a better human isn’t about constantly setting records: it’s about working hard to become the best version of yourself."
In the SMS alliance, SMS Audio will develop a line of Reebok-licensed headphones "specifically designed to stand up to the demands required from the wide spectrum of fitness activities for which Reebok manufactures products."
"My partnership with Reebok is centered around the goal of inspiring people to push themselves harder and farther . . . to reach their full potential."
SMS and Reebok will support the partnership via marketing "designed to reach and engage devout fitness enthusiasts and avid athletes that demand superior performance from their fitness and audio gear.
“Music adds an important dimension to fitness,” Linne Kimball, Reebok’s head of licensing, said in a statement. “Whether it is part of mental preparation pre-workout, or whether it adds personal motivation during a long run. In SMS Audio, Reebok has found a partner who understands the unique demands that fitness places on the category, and will work closely with us to create Reebok audio solutions for our fit generation consumer.”
The Reebok-licensed headphone collection from SMS Audio will be available in August 2015 at select retail locations including Reebok stores and Reebok.com.
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