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Drink up at the Luv Shaq, baby

Basketball great Shaquille O'Neal has put his big name on a new brand of vodka.

Shaquille O’Neal is getting into the premium vodka business. A company called Devotion Spirits is teaming up with the basketball legend to launch a sugar-free, coconut-flavored vodka they’re calling Luv Shaq. It’s due to hit shelves in April 2013.

Celebrities have a long history of endorsing booze. (Think Orson Welles with a glass of Paul Masson wine.) But these days, the rich and famous are creating their own brands. Justin Timberlake’s got a premium tequila. Then there’s Mansinthe, Marilyn Manson’s brand of absinthe. Even the formerly mop-haired boy band Hanson -- yeah, they’re old enough to drink -- announced plans to sell their own India Pale Ale last year.

“I remember the press release on it, we posted something about it, and that is literally the last I’ve heard of it,” says Jeff Ciolletti, editor-in-chief of Beverage World magazine.

For that matter, when was the last time you mixed up a “Trumptini” with Trump vodka?

Some of these brands do succeed. Dan Akroyd’s Crystal Head vodka -- the one in the skull-shaped bottles -- has done well. So has Ciroc vodka. It’s backed by Sean “Diddy” Combs.

Jeffrey Klineman with trade magazine Bevnet says Diddy is more than just a pretty face. “There’s a shift with all kinds of celebrity involvement in brands, where they want to be behind the brand more than out front,” he says.

Devotion Vodka isn’t saying much about Shaq’s role in Luv Shaq, baby. But the company itself admits it’s a tough market. According to a Devotion fact sheet: “400 vodka brands are introduced every year, and only a few survive.”

We asked our Twitter followers for their ideas for good Shaq-themed cocktails to make with Luv Shaq. Here are some of the contributions -- tweet us @MarketplaceAPM with your ideas!

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.
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All media hype. A famous name. Still tastes bad and too much ends in a bad end. Hey put my name on a bottle and with the right advertising (like the fish singing guy) ill be rich!

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