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AriZona to launch Joe DiMaggio drink line

The iconic image of sports hero Joe DiMaggio

The iconic image of sports hero Joe DiMaggio will join other legendary athletic figures who have inspired drinks created by Woodbury-based AriZona Beverages USA. Credit: Handout

The iconic image of sports hero Joe DiMaggio will join other legendary athletic figures who have inspired drinks created by Woodbury-based AriZona Beverages USA.

Joltin' Joe's drink: a lightly carbonated espresso.

AriZona Beverages is hoping Joltin' Joe will do as well as its other athlete-inspired selections like its Arnold Palmer Half & Half (tea and lemonade) line and Jack Nicklaus' Golden Bear lemonade line. AriZona's Arnold Palmer varieties now account for more than $200 million in sales annually, according to BevNet Magazine, citing research firm SymphonyIRI Group Inc.

Marketing experts say celebrity marketing often works: "History dictates that the alignment between famous people and famous brands, when strategically thought out, is a very effective marketing tool," said Ric Bachrach, chief executive of Celebrity Focus, Inc., a Northbrook, Ill., celebrity marketing consulting firm.

Whether DiMaggio's image is a successful pairing with the Joltin' Joe drink boils down to whether the relationship makes sense to the consumer, Bachrach said. Consumers will walk away from "willy nilly" celebrity placements because they lack credibility. In this case, however, the use of DiMaggio's image with the espresso drink is relevant on different levels.

"Outside of his baseball exploits, everybody knew him for Mr. Coffee," Bachrach said. After his baseball career, DiMaggio was a pitchman for Mr. Coffee, a brand that popularized drip coffee makers. Bachrach added, "We have had a resurgence of long-gone iconic figures, and DiMaggio — he's an icon that will probably just never go away."

While DiMaggio's nickname — Joltin' Joe — offers up caffeinated associations, it's his overall stature as a sports hero that will connect with consumers, said Michelle Alfandari, a managing member of Joe DiMaggio Llc, which has the rights to license and market all intellectual property of Joe DiMaggio.

Joltin' Joe's young face graces the front of the 16-ounce can, as do other historical photos and headlines from his 56-game hitting streak in 1941. One feature was altered — his cap reads "USA" instead of the Yankees' "NY" logo.

"He inspired America," Alfandari said. "He brought a nation together. Every time he got up to hit, everyone wanted him to make a hit because he represented something bigger."

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