LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Muhammad Ali left the boxing ring for the last time 26 years ago, before most of today's college students were born. Now Ali is lending his name, image and reputation as the Greatest Of All Time to a snack food aimed at 18- to 24-year-olds. It's the former heavyweight champion's first foray into marketing his image since selling most of the rights to his name and likeness for $50 million last year, the Associated Press said.
The snack food is produced through Mars Inc., through a company called G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Time), and the [image-nocss] snacks hit bookstore shelves at five college campuses yesterday, coinciding with Ali's 65th birthday.
Marketing experts said the product is a form of persona branding, using Ali's image, name and reputation to induce customers into buying a product. Other celebrities, including Elvis Presley, stuntman Evel Knievel and civil rights icon Rosa Parks, have made similar moves to set up a continuing stream of revenue for themselves and their families, said AP.
Elvis has been dead since the 70s, and the revenue still pours in, said Larry Bisig, chairman of the Bisig Impact Group, a marketing and promotions company in Louisville, Ky.
Peter Arnell, founder of the Arnell Group, which helped create the snacks, said Ali's image as a world-class athlete and humanitarian, as well as a resurgence of interest in him spurred by TV specials and a book, give the snacks a cool factor.
Ali, a Louisville native who now lives in Berrien Springs, Mich., sold 80% of the marketing rights to his name and likeness in April to CKX Inc. The deal allows Ali, who suffers from Parkinson's Disease, to retain 20% interest in the business.
The snacks, which include fruit crumbles, crunchy mixes and flavored crisps, are given boxing-related names such as Rumble, Shuffle and Jabs. The flavors include Fruit Fight, Thrill-A-Dill-A and Slammin' Salsa. The snacks are shaped like boxing gloves, medicine balls, ropes, speed bags and body shields.
For Muhammad, eating smart has been a big part of his success, Arnell said.
The snacks will first go on sale at Georgia Tech, Texas A&M, the University of Pennsylvania, Ohio State and Yale.
Arnell said the snacks could go on sale at 20 more colleges by the beginning of February, with new flavors rolling out every few months.
Arnell and Lonnie Ali wouldn't say what else G.O.A.T. may produce in the future.