Kevin Durant earns equity interest in Oklahoma City-based Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt
Thunder forward Kevin Durant said Thursday that he has signed a partnership deal with Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt.
Kevin Durant has had a busy week. The Oklahoma City Thunder star recently renewed his business relationship with Nike after a sincere effort by rival Under Armour UA +0.22% to sign Durant to a deal worth between $265-285 million. As of today, Durant has another endorsement deal in place. It is an endorsement arrangement with frozen dessert franchise Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt that will provide Durant with a monetary reward in the form of an up-front cash payment along with equity in the company and becomes the first equity-based endorsement deal within Durant’s rapidly expanding portfolio.
“One of the things we are trying to do with Kevin is create real collaborative platforms for him with what I call emerging brands,” said Michael Yormark, President and Chief of Branding and Strategy at Roc Nation. Yormark stepped down as President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers earlier this year to help manage the business affairs at Roc Nation, which represents Durant. ”When we talk about platforms, we talk about equity, having a stake in the company. Orange Leaf is a great company based in Oklahoma City looking to expand internationally and continue to expand in the U.S. and is a brand that is part of Kevin’s life.”
Yormark added that while Durant’s deal with Orange Leaf is the first that provides the elite athlete with an equity position, there are another one or two announcements planned before the start of the 2014/15 NBA season that will include a piece of equity. The Roc Nation executive admits that it is a little more challenging to build in equity positions with big brands that wish to associate with Durant. Orange Leaf, an international chain with 325 locations across the U.S. and Australia and nearly seventy additional locations currently under construction is admittedly not nearly the size of Nike.
Yet, Orange Leaf is not concerned that it will be shadowed by bigger brands associated with Durant and is actually excited about his very recent extension with Nike, despite it possibly overshadowing Durant’s new frozen yogurt deal.
“Orange Leaf now operating in Nike’s atmosphere and people are probably going to recognize how big of a brand we are,” said Reese Travis, CEO of Orange Leaf in an interview for this article. ”If I’m aligned with Nike and the other brands [Durant's] aligned with, we have the same story and Kevin is as committed as he is on the court, I’m not concerned about being overshadowed. As we launch into new regions and markets, Kevin Durant will be able to bring his name and brand awareness to elevate Orange Leaf.”
Travis refers to Durant as “an animal, a beast, a monster on the court,” but he adds that the partnership is about the man behind the monster. ”He is community focused and that’s exactly what we are.”
The first words typed by Kevin Durant about the partnership were disseminated through his Twitter TWTR +2.56% account, wherein he mentioned that he loves that the brand supports a great cause.
Orange Leaf and Roc Nation began negotiating the endorsement deal in July.
“One thing that I walked away with is that every single one of Kevin Durant’s partners are all in alignment in how he wants to be portrayed,” said Travis. ”[Roc Nation] is looking for opportunities for Kevin to partner with companies, be disruptive, grow a business and be a successful partner. That’s what we want, because it aligns Kevin’s interests with ours.”
Durant’s obligations under the partnership agreement with Orange Leaf includes a responsibility to promote the brand through community service, social media and personal appearances. Additionally, Durant will be involved in the development of a program to positively impact under-served children and communities.
“Kevin loves Oklahoma City, he loves the organization, the fans, he loves the community,” said Yormark. When it seemed as though Durant would be signing with Baltimore-based Under Armour, many suggested that Durant was destined to play for the Washington Wizards once his current contract with the Thunder expires. Now that Durant has signed an equity deal with Oklahoma City-based Orange Leaf should everyone believe that Durant is staying put? ”There’s been no thought or conversation about any other NBA destination,” added Yormark.
Darren Heitner is a lawyer and the Founder of South Florida-based HEITNER LEGAL, P.L.L.C., which has a focus on Sports Law and Entertainment Law.