Special to NYSportsJournalism.com
April 2, 2015: It would seen an unfair mismatch to put 5'8" 17-year-old actress Bella Thorne into a fight with former NBA star center Shaquille O'Neal, who stands 7'1' and weighs in at 325 lbs.
But Post Foods is doing that, pitting the two celebrities in a friendly competition between Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles "to see which flavor has the most passionate fans."
Shaq leads Team Fruity and Thorne, heads up Team Cocoa in a multi-media effort that includes TV, Internet, social media and limited-edition boxes featuring the two spokespersons.
The pair are following in the footsteps of WWE icon John Cena and Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who last year were leaders for Team Fruity and Team Cocoa, respectively.
“We are excited to expand the Team Fruity and Team Cocoa rosters with amazing talents who exemplify the Pebbles spirit,” Sue Fruzzetti-Reich, senior brand manager for Post Foods, said in a statement. “We know both Shaq and Bella will bring a renewed surge of energy to their respective teams and inspire fans to share their love for Pebbles.”
The alliance adds to O'Neal's vast array of endorsement deals, which also include AT&T, Arizona Iced Tea, Gold Bond, Icy Hot, Reebok, Buick, Zales, Phillips Van Heusen, Peerless Clothing, 2K Sports, Bloomsbury Publishing and Monster Electronics.
He has been an NBA analyst with Turner Sports since 2011.
“Fruity Pebbles brings out the big kid in me,” four-time NBA champion O’Neal said in a statement. “After a great Pebbles season last year, I’m excited to suit up and go head-to-head against Bella and Team Cocoa. I can’t wait to lead the Team Fruity charge, this is going to be a slam dunk!”
According to Thorne, “I’m a huge fan of Cocoa Pebbles and am pumped to lead Team Cocoa. Just because I’m not a professional athlete, doesn’t mean I’m not competitive. I’m ready to show Shaq and his team that while I may be small, Team Cocoa has BIG game and is ready to take Team Fruity down!”
People can support their favorite flavor online by choosing a team at a dedicated Web site, accessible on desktop, mobile and tablet.
A sweepstakes offers the opportunity to win such prizes as a meet-and-greet with Shaq or Bella, electric scooters, GoPro cameras, gift cards and VIP family vacation in Orlando. (Details here.)
"Since the Pebbles flavor showdown kicked off early last year, our Team Captains and teammates have done a great job at rallying support behind Fruity and Cocoa," said Fruzzetti-Reich. "Both sides have a passionate fan base and it has kept the competition tight.
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