The Los Angeles Lakers pulled off a blockbuster trade this month to acquire Russell Westbrook, but the triple-double machine won’t be the only new addition to the Lakers’ bench next season. Hydration brand BioSteel has signed a multi-year partnership to be the official sports drink of the 17-time NBA champions, including a presence on the team bench and for in-arena signage.
The Lakers, who ranked third in Sportico‘s NBA team valuations at $5.14 billion, are the fifth NBA club to partner with the Toronto-based company since the start of 2020. Other sponsorships include the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors and Dallas Mavericks.
“With quality clean ingredients and sustainable packaging, BioSteel leads the way in supporting the health and wellness of athletes, which makes them a perfect sponsor for our team,” Lakers president of business operations Tim Harris said in a statement announcing the news.
BioSteel’s goal over the next 12 months is to be the fourth-biggest sports drink brand in the U.S., up from seventh, company co-founder John Celenza said in a phone interview. The NBA is a key component of its marketing strategy with team sponsorships, players Luka Dončić and Andrew Wiggins, and Nets coach Steve Nash in the fold.
“BioSteel was born in the locker room and working with athletes and professional teams is core to who we are,” said co-founder Michael Cammalleri, who spent 15 years in the NHL. He cites the Lakers’ global fanbase as an opportunity to increase awareness for the brand.
Gatorade was the Lakers’ previous sports drink partner. The PepsiCo-owned brand has dominated the category for more than three decades and still controls roughly 70% of the U.S. market. It’s followed by Powerade, owned by Coca-Cola, and BodyArmor, in which Coca-Cola owns a minority stake.
BioSteel faces an uphill battle competing with a pair of consumer packaged goods giants, but it gained an important ally in 2019 when publicly traded cannabis company Canopy Growth bought a majority stake—it currently owns 76%. Canopy is 39%-owned by beer, wine and spirits company Constellation Brands, giving BioSteel access to a valuable distribution network.
“We now have trucks that go to every gas, convenience, food and drug store across the country,” said Celenza. “As an emerging brand, we feel that gives us a competitive edge.”
The company was founded in 2009 by Celenza and Cammalleri, who serve as co-CEOs. BioSteel inked sponsorship deals in college basketball late last year and with U.S. Soccer in early 2021. NFL stars Patrick Mahomes and DeAndre Hopkins are both investors in the company.