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Q&A with Pat Croce

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The quintessential master of reinvention, Villanova’s Pat Croce has recently taken on two new gigs: national spokesperson (and “significant investor”) for Skinny Water—a zero-calorie, zero-carb, zero-preservative, no-sugar energy water—and league commissioner of SLAMBALL, a new full-contact, multi-surface, multi-faceted action sport coming soon to your TV. And if that wasn’t enough, he’s also working with screenwriter David Franzoni on a period pirate film (think Gladiator meets The Last of the Mohicans) that’s been sold to Steven Spielberg, and he’s also the author of the new kids’ book My Pop-Pop Is a Pirate. How does he do it? Lots of Skinny Water, of course.

MLT: You must’ve been psyched to use the line: “People have been telling me all of my life to bottle my energy.”
PC: It was great for me and for Skinny, which had already been on the market for about a year before. Their special sauce was an appetite suppressor. They asked me what I thought, and I said it was OK but that it would be really good infused with different flavors. And I also liked the idea of amping up the vitamins and antioxidants to take it high-energy.

MLT: A lot of people are cutting back on bottled water for environmental reasons. How eco-friendly is Skinny Water?
PC: There’s no getting around it: The bottles are plastic, but they’re not toxic. This is about getting people to drink more water, and bottled water’s just easier.

MLT: How much is too much?  
PC: For Crave Control, which has the appetite suppressant, one bottle an hour before mealtime is recommended. Really, it’s whatever it takes to stay hydrated and energized. People don’t drink enough water. They’re totally fatigued, but they don’t know why—and they miss out on quality time with family and doing the things they enjoy.

MLT: So how come you didn’t send us any?
PC: I’m surprised I didn’t.

MLT: How about a SLAMBALL update.
PC: We just got back from filming out at University City Walk in L.A. We did six games a day and came out with about 40 that will be carried on Versus. And CBS is signed on to air the finals on Nov. 2.

MLT: Can you describe the sport in a sentence or two?
PC: A spring-loaded court with a trampoline, surrounded by Plexiglas walls; eight players going four-on-four, full contact, for 20 minutes.

MLT: Sounds wild. How much are players paid?
PC: Not that much. The teams are league operated right now, but we’re moving toward making them owner-operated down the line, which is where they’ll make more money. It’s like anything else when you’re starting out. But the future is ours; IMG (a sports, entertainment and media company) is already selling the games overseas. They’ve got Wimbledon, so we’re in good hands.

MLT: Will Skinny Water be the official drink of the SLAMBALL league?
PC: I can’t say yes to that. The marketing plan is still being developed, and we’re looking for sponsors and athletes. Really, SLAMBALL might not be the best demographic for Skinny. You have to match your product to the right audience. You could be the perfect Skinny Water customer, but you might not be the best target for SLAMBALL.

MLT: Fast-forward to 2012. Will SLAMBALL be one of the main attractions at the next summer Olympics?
PC: No, not that soon. Maybe ’18 or ’22, but 2012 is too quick. We need to get the groundswell, and we need to get courts out there so people can play. Right now there’s only one. We actually moved it across the country to film the games in L.A.

MLT: Any plans for a video game?
PC: Absolutely. SLAMBALL looks like a videogame live, so it’s perfect. And, EA—they do all the Madden and Tiger Woods stuff—is an IMG client, so the tie-in is already there.
 

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