The business of sports is an all-consuming one. So, what better way to round out a diverse portfolio of brand alignment than something Shaquille O'Neal can really sink his teeth into?
Monday morning, news broke that NBA hall of famer and 15-time All-Star, 'Shaq', is Krispy Kreme's (KKD) new global spokesperson and owner of Krispy Kreme's downtown Atlanta location. Shaq is already working with Reebok, Icy Hot, Gold Bond and The General.
"In addition to Shaquille's status as a sports and entertainment icon and businessman, he is known for spreading joy, which aligns with our positioning and mission," said Tony Thompson, president and CEO of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, in a statement.
While this partnership makes sense -- Shaq is no longer playing and can enjoy as many delicious glazed doughnuts as he damn well pleases -- this is just another name to a growing list of athletes hawking less-than-nutritious food.
Other athletes who have taken the caloric plunge include Peyton Manning who owns several Papa John's, Odelle Beckham who is now a Dunkin' Donuts (DD) spokesperson, and Lebron James, who was an initial investor in Blaze Pizza and a former spokesperson for McDonald's (MCD) . James ditched his McDonald's endorsement last October to lend his name for Blaze's marketing campaign, which is understandably more on-brand for the 6'8" athlete.
Brand partnerships are understandably part of the game for athletes, a business endeavor originally started by the late Arnold Palmer, and fast-food giants certainly gain an edge from endorsements by some of the more notably statuesque examples in popular culture.
The Shaq partnership is yet another major move for the doughnut brand in 2016. On May 6, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts was bought by JAB Holding for $21 a share in cash, or a total value of approximately $1.35 billion. The is a premium of approximately 25% over Krispy Kreme's closing price on May 6. JAB, the family office of Germany's Reimann family, plunked down $13.9 billion last year to purchase coffee-pod maker Keurig Green Mountain and also owns Peet's Coffee & Tea and Caribou Coffee.
Being under the JAB stable should help Krispy Kreme move forward more quickly with its desire to roll out coffee beverages in retail stores and supermarkets to better compete with the likes of Starbucks (SBUX) , Dunkin' Donuts and Tim Horton's, part of Restaurant Brands International (QSR) .
Will Shaq's brand initiative take on more of a coffee-heavy rather than doughnut friendly stance? Only time will tell.