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When Rose Cameron spoke with Beverage Industry for its August 2012 edition, the Wat-aah founder and chief executive officer expressed the roots of her mission to convince kids that water can be a cool drink. But in order to make water the No. 1 hydration choice for kids, Cameron knows it will take building an emotional desire toward the Wat-aah brand to accomplish that goal.
“To do this effectively, we need to connect to kids in a way that is genuine, believable and contemporary,” the former marketing executive explains. “We also must remember that kids today are marketing savvy, increasingly aware and informed on the world around them and have become decision makers in their own right. Put more simply, kids are smart and can easily tell if a brand is trying too hard or faking it.”
In order to understand what children are looking for, Wat-aah has turned to kids for guidance and feedback, including Cameron’s own boys. “We want to share the message that Wat-aah is cool and fun through print and outdoor advertising, social media, event sponsorships and concerts, celebrity partnerships as well as sports,” Cameron explains.
Celebrities can play an important, influential role, Cameron acknowledges. Eight out of 10 boys and girls think a product is “cool” if a celebrity endorses or is seen with it, she adds.
Wat-aah has embraced the positive effect this could have on its mission and has developed numerous collaborations and partnerships since Wat-aah launched in 2008. Those partnerships have included teen stars like Willow Smith, OMG Girlz, Diggy Simmons, Cody Simpson and the Jonas Brothers, as well as recognizable celebrities such as Keri Hilson, Nick Cannon and Beyoncé Knowles through the Let’s Move Flash Workout campaign, Cameron explains.
But those aren’t the only relationships Wat-aah incorporates into its marketing platforms. The company also has partnerships with professional football players Marques Colston, a wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints, and Patrick Peterson, a cornerback for the Arizona Cardinals.
“Both of them came to us through Legacy Growth Partners two years ago,” Cameron says. “They saw the brand and witnessed its power to attract kids. They stand behind our mission to fight obesity and believe in our strategy to make drinking water and living healthy a cool concept to kids.”
Colston and Peterson both echo those sentiments. “A lot of factors influenced me in partnering with Wat-aah, but its ongoing mission to fight childhood obesity made it clear that this was a brand I could probably stand behind,” Colston says.
Peterson adds: “I was first introduced to Wat-aah by a fellow NFL athlete. When I saw that Wat-aah was all about staying healthy and spreading that message to kids, I knew it would be a perfect fit.”
Cameron notes that because athletes are known for their commitments to their health, sports, communities, education and families, they make ideal partnerships for Wat-aah.
“They are fantastic role models for kids,” she says. “We know that they can influence kids in a very positive way starting with engaging them to make healthy choices and encouraging them to play sports and make physical activity part of their daily routine to overcoming obstacles, aiming higher and attaining their dreams. What more can we ask for?”
To spread that message, both Colston and Peterson have been working with Wat-aah on special programs. For example, Colston and Wat-aah teamed up last fall with Louisiana-based charity AMIkids and specially designed a limited-edition bottle, Wat-aah #12, which was sold exclusively at Rouses Supermarkets.
“Not only did a portion of proceeds go toward helping the ongoing work AMIkids does in the community with troubled youth, but together we were able to spread a greater message — one of health, empowerment, positivity and, most importantly, perseverance through difficult times,” Colston explains.
Peterson notes that up until recently his work with Wat-aah has been in the Arizona marketplace, but given its national footprint, he’ll be spreading the message of healthy hydration in new places including his home state of Louisiana and his home away from home, Florida.
Peterson adds that he understands the effect celebrities and sports figures can have on products, and the fact that he is able to do something in a healthy, positive way with Wat-aah is a win-win.
Understanding that athletes’ biggest fans are kids, Colston explains that he tries to keep that in mind when working with a brand and its initiatives.
“From working with local charities, to growing distribution, to helping with Wat-aah’s annual Move Your Body event, I know that my participation will help get the right message across to kids,” he says. “That’s something I feel good about.”
Going forward into 2013, Wat-aah will continue to spread its message about making water a part of a healthy lifestyle and for the first-time ever, will run a national TV ad campaign featuring teen celebrities from the music industry, Wat-aah will also celebrate the third year of its Move Your Body event in support of the Let’s Move campaign, which will take place in May, Cameron explains.
“With participation from over 600 schools, along with celebrity guests and athletes, kids will get up and dance to show their support and commitment to health,” she says. “Of course Marques and Pat will be helping us lead this event in their respective communities.”