The Rock’s Deal With Voss Shows Us the Future of Beverage Marketing
Hollywood’s nicest bad-ass now invests in designer water — you WILL drink up
In late July, Norwegian water brand Voss announced — or rather, Dwayne
“The Rock” Johnson announced (since, let’s admit it, the media does not hang on news from Voss) — that Johnson was taking an ownership stake in, and advising, the iconic premium water brand.
For the uninitiated, Voss’ stylish, signature cylindrical glass bottle did as much for premium water as Fiji’s impossible-to-fit-in-a-cup-holder water bottles. But Voss spoke more strongly to water as a fashion statement, and they elevated spring-sourced still water to new heights of social status: “I pull a Voss from my Birkin, therefore I am fabulous.” “I walk into a business meeting carrying a Voss, therefore I am fabulous.” Both brands also spoke to good taste, disposable income, and interestingly, unconventionality, since neither water brand’s packaging was very convenient.
Much of the glowing but surface coverage to date has been about the connective star status of Johnson with his fans, his dedication to positivity and fitness, his creative agency (who were behind his first Voss campaign, naturally), and of course, his unquestionable appeal as a movie and social media star.
But what little, if any, of the coverage has addressed is Johnson’s deeper value to Voss as a brand. The answer likely lies in China.
In 2016, Voss sold a majority of their company to Reignwood Group, the Chinese juggernaut that owns and distributes Red Bull energy drinks in China. For most beverage brands looking to grow their global sales footprint, China is the promised land because of the continued increase in consumer spending there. Per Euromonitor International, China’s household disposable income per capita will grow by nearly a third by 2023.
And Johnson — already the box office champion in the US — is indisputably the most bankable American film star in China. Through advertising, his films, and his social media, he has the potential to sell billions of bottles of Voss in China alone.
Johnson’s seamless and authentic promotion of the brands he’s a part of, like Under Armour, are gold standards in film product integration. For example, in every Fast & Furious film franchise he’s been in, he’s been kicking ass in Under Armour.
Hobbs & Shaw, the latest F&F spinoff, opens August 2. Imagine how powerful a sales tool the integration of Voss into Johnson’s future films will be. And if we see Voss in “Hobbs & Shaw,” we’ll know this deal was a long time coming.
Having worked with talent and being involved currently in celebrity/beverage brand investor deals, I believe the Voss-Johnson deal is potentially a new benchmark. This is because its global reach is so huge and because Johnson, via his creative agency, is in total control of his image promoting Voss.
One day before The Rock/Voss news, powdered nutrition brand Liquid I.V. announced their own celebrity and influencer investor lineup. There are nineteen names, some of which are familiar (Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Kevin Hart). The other names require a little research, but even in total, they’re not as powerful a lineup of pitchmen as a single Dwayne Johnson.
Oddly, it harks back to the 90s and early aughts when leading American celebrities (like Harrison Ford and Brad Pitt) made a small fortune appearing in advertisements in Asia. These ads never ran in the US, and they never compromised those celebrities’ images with American filmgoers. My recent favorite in this vein was Hugh Jackman’s dance-driven ads for Lipton, which only ran in Asia. But what Johnson brings, with his own creative agency and social media influence, is so much more today.
The formula of celebrity investors in a beverage brand has been stagnant for a while, and it’s exciting to watch that paradigm get revitalized with Johnson’s latest deal. American beverage brands signing celebrity investors, take note.