Shark Tank

Is Your Swag Sustainable and Strong as Steel?

By Allison Schult

Ice Shaker bottles — Good for travel and the planet.

I come from a large, tight-knit family where loyalty and support of each member is woven into our DNA. Sure, there’s plenty of grumbling amongst ourselves, and when we all come together for any extended length of time, prepare to hear some yelling. But, let an outsider threaten one of us, and, well, that someone’s going to pay. When you grow up in a family like that, you tend to notice and appreciate similar family structures because they’re going to understand where you’re coming from.

My husband, Scott, became a Boilermaker in 1985

Which happens to be from a huddle of football enthusiasts. My Dad played offensive tackle at the University of Colorado, so growing up every weekend during the Fall, the house was filled from dawn ‘til dusk (or later) with the sounds of NCAA and NFL football, and I hated it. Not football per se, but the way it consumed our weekends. To drown out the loud, pedantic commentators and my brother’s outrageous tantrums when his teams lost, I’d sequester myself in my room and crank up the record player—reappearing in time for the half-time show (I was a member of my high school marching band.) Fast forward to my adult life and the weekends are much the same… my husband, Scott, played defensive end at Purdue.

Game on for Arizona Wildcats Rob (L) and Chris (R) Gronkowski

It was in 2007, that I first heard the Gronkowski name as Rob started breaking reception records at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where I lived. The following year, despite my efforts to avoid watching football, I realized there was another Gronkowski emblazoned on the back of a jersey that wasn’t Rob. Wait. What? There’s two of them? In 2010, they both went pro: Rob signing with the New England Patriots and Chris with the Dallas Cowboys. Though I was raised to cheer for the Kansas City Chiefs, I couldn’t help but root for our “hometown” boys (even though they were from Buffalo, New York).

The Gronkowski brothers are like the sports-world version of the Baldwin brothers—except, in typical competitive Gronkowski fashion, they beat out the Baldwins five to four. Even if you’re not an athlete, you have to appreciate a family with five boys who all become professional athletes. So, when I saw Chris Gronkowski on Shark Tank, once more I thought, “Wait. What?”

Step aside, Baldwins, because this hulk of a football player can perform. Chris, with the support of his four brothers, pitched and was offered investment deals from all of the Shark Tank investors, ultimately signing Alex Rodriguez and Mark Cuban as investors in Ice Shaker, a collection of insulated sport shaker bottles and tumblers that—unlike athletes—keep their cool, don’t sweat, and don’t stink.

Sign me up.

Other smart marketers in the travel industry have done the same. In 2019, to welcome the PGA Tour Champions players to Tucson for the Cologuard Classic, Visit Tucson and Omni Tucson National partnered to provide each pro golfer with their own branded Ice Shaker. The gift was not only functional but sustainable and has a uniquely memorable tie to Tucson.

‘Sunshine to Share’ Wins Big.

Something that’s uniquely Arizona is its warm, sunny days. So, when the mercury was dropping in New York and Chicago, Visit Arizona let them know they had plenty of “Sunshine to Share” with co-branded, steel-grade shakers that keep your beverage warm through the winter or icy cold while you’re basking in the Arizona sun. It was such a smart move that Visit Arizona walked away with the 2019 Mercury Award (how appropriate is that) for Social Media by the National Council of State Tourism Directors and U.S. Travel Association. Good for Arizona. Good for Ice Shaker. Good for Planet Earth.

And, Visit Myrtle Beach paid it forward, too, when they used Ice Shaker during the Myrtle Beach Invitational. I figure the destination owed it to the Gronkowskis since they’ve spent many multi-generational family vacations in Myrtle Beach through the decades. Maybe Chris’s memories of playing a lively game of Capture the Flag on Myrtle’s warm, sandy beaches contributed to the fact that Ice Shakers will preserve ice for up to 30 hours—a must-have for every beach comber.

Building Strong Communities.

Those are three great examples of how Ice Shaker connected with destinations, but there’s more to this story. As professional athletes, the Gronkowskis live up to their social responsibility to be good role models. Training hard, playing well, and learning from your losses are important to success, but what you do with your hard-earned success is truly what matters. Chris and Rob Gronkowski have capitalized on their athletic success to produce Ice Shaker, a quality product that outperforms in its category, and with Gronk Nation, a compendium of all the Gronkowski-owned businesses, they share their success with those in need.

The Gronk Nation Youth Foundation is dedicated to helping American children lead healthier lives through fitness, sports, education and community involvement. They regularly donate cash to worthy children’s organizations, like the Boston Children’s Hospital, or to support our troops. Ice Shaker recently contributed to more than 1,000 care packages for active military overseas—and who needs a long-lasting cold drink more than U.S. soldiers stationed faraway, dry desert climates.

Maybe I just feel like I’m part of the family (Gronk Nation!), maybe I’m just more of a football fan than I realized, maybe I just know how to pick a good product, or maybe I’m just a sucker for a good story… but every respectable marketer knows, it’s the stories that stick.

Chris (L) and Rob (R) are pros at keeping it cool before their gym workouts heat up, 2019.

Make Ice Shaker Part of Your Brand’s Story.

Whether it’s family loyalty, brotherly love, baseball, football, teams and towns, a dedication to healthy living, or simply a product like no other, it’s a chapter in the Gronks’ story that likely will connect with yours. So, join the Steel Squad, checkout out the lineup of products and make Ice Shaker part of your destination’s narrative. Contact me at allison@milemarker630.com for a special offer.