Big Brands Getting Bigger: Smoothie King Center
Smoothie King expands its reign to 18,000-capacity arena in New Orleans.
How many franchise brands can add an eponymous arena to its list of achievements? Smoothie King sure can.
When Smoothie King signed a 10-year agreement to rename the New Orleans Arena the Smoothie King Center on the cusp of the 2014 NBA All Star Game, the smoothie purveyors added yet another milestone to over 40 years of growth and innovation. While Smoothie King’s success has come as no surprise, the notion of naming a sports arena sure was.
“It was nowhere on our radar,” Smoothie King COO Tom O’Keefe said. “We visited to discuss some kiosk opportunities with the New Orleans Saints, and it sort of snowballed from there. It was a monumental decision that just felt right.”
O’Keefe and the Smoothie King team saw an opportunity to further the brand’s presence while becoming further involved in the professional sports realm, a logical foray for a company that has been serving up delicious and nutritious beverages since 1973.
It wasn’t a straight and narrow path leading to the Smoothie King name lit up in lights, though. The process encompassed several time-consuming steps.
“The whole process amounted to more than a year,” O’Keefe said. “All was said and done after six months, but the NBA made us test all non-smoothie products to ensure they would not cause a player to fail a test for ingesting a performance enhancing product that was not approved by the league's collective bargaining agreement.”
The Smoothie King Center is a testament to the incredible growth that the brand has enjoyed over the past decade. While symbolism is all fine and good, numbers cannot lie; O’Keefe has the proof that the Smoothie King Center has directly benefitted the brand.
“It has a force of its own,” he said. “Our year to date same-store saleson the day we announced (February 6, 2014) were -2.24 percent. By the end of March, we were +8 percent and have never looked back. One prospect in Columbia, Miss., bought a five-store deal after learning about the Center while watching the NBA All-Star game, which occurred in New Orleans and was tied to the announcement of our partnership.”
Smoothie King now operates two kiosks in its Smoothie King Center as well as the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, elevating brand awareness and credibility to new heights. Snagging one of thirty such naming-rights deals in the U.S., Smoothie King has created even more proof that the brand is not the leader of the pack; Smoothie King is in a league all its own.