Cheribundi is partnering with more than 60 college and professional sports teams to provide tart cherry juice to their athletes.
Five of the top six-ranked National Collegiate Athletic Association football teams -- Alabama, LSU, University of Oregon, Florida State, and Oklahoma -- buy the product for their players, and 14 of the top 25-ranked teams drink it. Other college teams on board include the University of Utah, Auburn University and the University of Illinois.
The Boulder, Colo.-based beverage is using a guerilla marketing plan to get the word out about the benefits of the tangy juice.
Fans of Cheribundi have called it a secret weapon in the competitive and endurance sports worlds. Athletes at the recent summer Olympics in London reported drinking it to bounce back after heavy workouts and medal competitions.
Pro teams that drink and endorse the product include the National Basketball Association’s New York Knicks, the National Football League’s Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, St. Louis Rams and the Dallas Cowboys, as well as Major League Baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies.
Besides the endorsements, marketing also includes event sampling at rock'n roll marathons and various triathlons all over the country throughout the year. They also do hundreds of demos in various retailers.
As part of a University of Colorado sponsorship, there will be large billboards on their basketball and football stadiums and they’ll be demoing the juice at tailgate parties.
Consumers are looking for and need a natural anti-inflammatory, said Cheribundi CEO Brian Ross, who previously founded Oregon Chai and was also the VP of business development at IZZE beverage company.
“The benefits of tart cherry juice are real and Cheribundi tastes great, and this combination creates a great opportunity to reach consumers who have an unmet need," Ross tells Marketing Daily. "Oregon Chai and Izze were both new and exciting and delicious, but there were no specific health benefits attached. What is different here is that not only do we have great taste, but we have amazing health benefits to offer."
Studies have shown that tangy Montmorency cherries, the primary ingredient in Cheribundi, can reduce muscle and joint pain after intense exercise. It’s become part of a well-stocked training toolkit for pro and college athletes, as well as amateur runners, cyclists, triathletes and exercise enthusiasts.
The juice is reported to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, according to Malachy McHugh, director of research at the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.
Tart cherry juice also contains melatonin, known as a natural sleep aid, Vitamin A, iron, potassium and calcium, and provides carbohydrates that aid post-workout recovery, studies say.
The product is fresh-pressed at a plant in Geneva, N.Y., is distributed in nearly 4,000 groceries and markets nationwide, including Whole Foods Markets and Wegmans.