Coming soon to Pinkberry locations nationwide: Maria Sharapova’s exclusive line of high-end gummy candies will be available at the frozen-yogurt chain’s topping bar and for in-store retail. Sugarpova, launched by the tennis star in 2013, will be the first independent brand featured and marketed in Pinkberry stores in this capacity.

“Maria is a big fan of Pinkberry, and Pinkberry is a big fan of Maria. I think we share similar values in terms of quality and consumer delight,” says Ron Graves, Pinkberry CEO. “If you know anything about her and her candy line, it’s very fun and tasty and distinctive. Those are the kind of offerings we have a Pinkberry.”

Previously only available at select retailers like Hallmark and It’sugar candy stores, the Sugarpova line offers 12 varieties of sweet and sour gummies and three types of gumball candies. For the Pinkberry partnership, brand executives worked with Sharapova and her Sugarpova team to create mini versions of three popular varieties for the topping bar: Smitten, a sweet rainbow-colored ribbon candy; Flirty, fruit-flavored gummies in the iconic shape of lips featured in Sugarpova’s logo; and Flirty Sour, a combination of colorful sour gummies shaped like lips, hearts, and stars.

“Select store have the opportunity to bring in the packaged candy for retail, and her whole line is available,” says Laura Jakobsen, Pinkberry’s senior vice president of marketing and design. “Franchisees can pick, sort, and select what they want to offer.”

Jakobsen says the Sugarpova partnership stemmed from Pinkberry’s commitment to create a destination for consumers who crave an elevated treat experience.

“Her candy line is relatively new, and it’s not distributed widely,” she says. “It met our characteristics of being high quality, being fun and fashionable, and being a part of pop culture, so we wanted to create a destination where people could come and have that taste experience of Pinkberry and Sugarpova together.”

As for marketing the partnership, Pinkberry and Sugarpova, along with Sharapova, will take to social media, Jakobsen says, adding that both brands have strong consumer interactions through social channels and strong loyalty programs. Graves says Sharapova’s social media following, which includes 864,000 Twitter followers and nearly 12 million Facebook followers, will be an asset in further promoting the venture.

Similar partnerships may be in Pinkberry’s future, but only if it’s a perfect fit, Graves says.

“While we could have in the past brought in many other established brands, we instead look for something very unique, very distinctive, and not mass [distributed],” he says. “Shared values, for us, are the most important thing we need when we partner with anybody, whether it’s a franchisee or another vendor.”

By Tamara Omazic

Desserts, Marketing & Promotions, News, Pinkberry