This post originally appeared on Forbes.com (October 11, 2012)
America is a sport obsessed nation.
In 2011, Americans watched 42,500 hours of live sporting events on national broadcast and cable television, a 5% increase from 2010. This time last year, 463,664,000
video streams took place on sports websites by 35 million consumers (Source: Nielsen’s State of the Media: 2011 Year in Sports).
Considering so many people are watching sports, it seems hardly plausible that more than one-third (35.7%) of adults in the United States are obese, and approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents are obese (Source: Centers for Disease Control).
It wasn’t that long ago when we all wanted to “Be Like Mike.” Somewhere, somehow, we lost our way.
Who is to blame?
At this stage, we are well beyond the blame game. It is predicted that if Americans continue down the current unhealthy path more than half of the country could be obese by 2030 (Source: The Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation).
Now the conversation must shift toward solutions.
The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), in its 16th season is the longest running women’s professional basketball league in the United States, and the Jamba Juice Company (NASDAQ: JMBA), a leading healthy, active lifestyle company headquartered in Emeryville California, have pledged to become part of the solution.
For 20 plus years, Jamba Juice has been on a mission to simplify and improve healthy living. The company struggled during the early part of the recession with declining stock prices and profitability. However, after repositioning the brand, appointing new leadership, and implementing its Blend Plan 2.0, Jamba Juice has since experienced accelerated growth.
Last year, the company posted $226.4 million in revenue, and in August 2012 it reported a seventh consecutive quarter of system-wide store sales growth. Today, Jamba Juice operates 783 locations globally (305 company-owned/operated and 478 franchises); and over the course of the last 18 months, it has opened 30 stores in three international markets (South Korea, Canada, and the Philippines).
In 2010, the retailer expanded its reach into professional sports with a multi-year sponsorship deal with the WNBA. Recently, I spoke withJames D. White, Chairman, President, and CEO, and Julie S. Washington, Senior Vice President and Chief Brand Officer, who discussed Jamba Juice’s mission-driven brand, its vision to simplify healthy living, and its commitment to the WNBA.
Here are highlights from our conversation…
On Jamba Juice’s partnership with the WNBA…
White: I have been a passionate advocate for women across my career. For me, it is about leveling the playing field for women and making sure they get real opportunities. We are huge fans of the WNBA, one for the incredible family friendly entertainment, but more importantly the example it sets for young girls and young women. This is the one league where there is a significant number of women ownership, which we think is a big deal. I’d love to see many more people be exposed to the WNBA, its players, and the brand. We have had nothing short of exceptional experience with the teams, the league, and the leadership of the WNBA.
Washington: As you look at the WNBA, the entity, the respective teams and players, they are very community connected. Jamba is very much about a store in your community that then moves it from just being a retailer to being part of your life. When you look at the WNBA, their players are not just celebrities on the court. They are a part of the fan-base and the community in which they live. Here, we have players who are genuinely willing to be a part of the different opportunities, and they are great role models.
On Team Up for a Healthy America and the fight against childhood obesity…
Washington:Team Up is a grassroots social media campaign. When we talk about healthy living we wanted to make sure that we had a holistic approach to it. Team Up allows us to provide simple and fun solutions for kids in addition for adults. When you come to the website and pledge weekly in the program, we give fun but easy activities that allow people to form healthy habits. When you pledge, Jamba gives monetary donations, and in turn we have been able to buy equipment and items for schools. At the end of the day, what is our role and how can we have an impact on childhood obesity? We know that nutrition is important, which is a core part of Jamba.
On the relationship between corporate responsibility and healthy living….
White: We have been on a very clear path to inspire and simplify healthy living. As a corporation versus this being a campaign, it is who are. At the DNA level of our corporation, we have always been actively invested in our local communities. The investment has always been around youth sports, physical activity, and getting people engaged in creating a healthier lifestyle. It is very much part and parcel to who we are as a company.
On accomplishing goals and objectives with the WNBA Partnership…
White: We have and we wanted to accomplish three or four primary objectives. We wanted to expose the great fan base of the WNBA to the Jamba brand in as many ways as we could. That has been a great success so far in the partnership. We also wanted to capitalize on our common interest in kids and local communities. We’ve found many ways to partner and impact the local communities that we do business in. Importantly, we had an objective to get to know some of the players and engage the women of the WNBA.
At the intersection of professional sports, business, and nutrition, you will find Jamba Juice and the WNBA promoting healthy living and “teaming up” to combat obesity. For more information about the fight against childhood obesity visit www.JambaJuice.com and www.WNBA.com.