BodyArmor looks to own athletic water with help from Bruce Lee

The Kobe Bryant-backed company launches first campaign for SportWater.

BodyArmor is looking to raise the profile of SportWater, a premium water brand that was designed for athletes, in its first national campaign, featuring martial arts phenom Bruce Lee.

The "Be Water" initiative, which was created by BodyArmor agency of record The Brooklyn Brothers and filmed by Brian + Ford, is focused on highlighting SportWater as a "differentiated water," said Michael Fedele, VP of marketing at BodyArmor.

"Sports and hydration have evolved, but the category hasn’t," said Fedele, adding that most water brands tout messages around taste, purity or where the product comes from rather than its utility or how it affects athletic performance.  

SportWater, which rolled out in specific regions last year and became a national brand in 2018, has a sport performance pH 8+, electrolytes and a wide mouth bottle for faster hydration. It was also developed with help from athletes. 

In the new creative spots, a voiceover of Lee talking about water is heard over clips of athletes, such as James Harden, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Richard Sherman, Dustin Johnson and Megan Rapinoe, at crucial moments of training. All of the athletes in the creative are investors and shareholders of the brand. Specific details about Lee’s partnership were not disclosed.

The voiceover reads: "I said empty your mind. Be formless. Shapeless. Like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. Water can flow. Or it can crash. Be water, my friend."

Guy Barnett, CCO and founder of The Brooklyn Brothers, said the athletic shots in the ads are aimed at catching "thoughtful moments" of athletic performances.

"A lot of brands are about the action in sports, where water is that moment after the action – when you need that hydration, you need those electrolytes, you need to replenish," he said. "Those moments are thoughtful. The athletes are somewhat diminished by activity and they need that hydration."

In what Fedele called a "multi-million dollar media plan," the 30 and 15-second spots will run on streaming networks, like Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV and more. The campaign also includes digital banners, in-store advertising and social media activations.

SportWater, which is already on Kroger shelves across the country and is the official water of the UFC, will soon also become available at CVS.

The goal for SportWater is to be "athletes’ water brand," Fedele said. "Who drinks more water than anyone else? Athletes."

Barnett added that the water category is generally an "attitude free zone" and SportWater is looking to change that.

BodyArmor, which Kobe Bryant bought a large stake of in 2013, includes the flagship BodyArmor Sports Drink, BodyArmor Lyte and SportWater, and Fedele said the company is working on other product innovations.