‘We’re Proud!’ Behind the Spurs' Energy-Drink Partnership With NERD Focus

‘We’re Proud!’ Behind the Spurs' Energy-Drink Partnership With NERD Focus

A drink that boasts ingredients to stimulate brain function as well as provide energy certainly sounds appealing on paper, and to the San Antonio Spurs, it was. That’s why they partnered with the local brand to build a mutually-beneficial relationship for this season and beyond.

JAN. 4; SAN ANTONIO — Midway through the second half trailing by just two points to the Milwaukee Bucks, the San Antonio Spurs needed a little pick-me-up.

Up until that point, third quarters hadn't been kind to the league's youngest team. In fact, they were disastrous. It was the period where close games became blowouts, and against the Bucks, it almost seemed like that would once again be the case.

"We did start the first couple of minutes a little bit slow," Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama said of the initial minutes in the second half of that game. "But I'm glad we got it back together. During the game, that's one of our main focus points." 

As consistently as it was a focus point, however, it was also a foregone conclusion. The Spurs were going to lose, and the third quarter was going to be the reason why.

But Frost Bank Center had a different idea for the early-January evening. 

Jan 4, 2024; San Antonio, Texas, USA; San Antonio Spurs mascot Coyote performs during the second half against the Milwaukee Bucks at Frost Bank Center.

Jan 4, 2024; San Antonio, Texas, USA; San Antonio Spurs mascot Coyote performs during the second half against the Milwaukee Bucks at Frost Bank Center.

With 6:56 left in the third quarter, the Spurs called a timeout. The entire sell-out crowd in the arena buzzed anxiously as the team went shot-for-shot with one of the league's best squads. But before they had too much time to think about it during the break in game action, however, they got a little looser. 

That was courtesy of Otis Day and the Knights. 

Dressed in a Greek toga, San Antonio's famed Coyote hit the floor to dance along to one of the band's most popular hits, "Shout," as a way to get the crowd's energy up. 

He danced around, joined by the collective cheers of the Spurs faithful eager to support the Silver & Black through thick and thin. They sang as the Coyote dropped lower to the floor — nearly completely laying down — and as he rose back up with the music. They sang and danced, too, as the he exited the floor and the Spurs once again took the court to finish out what ended up being their best third quarter of the season.

For the Spurs, facing the Bucks was a big occasion. A spectacle, to the say the least. But for the crowd, it was just another home game. Another time to watch the Spurs play basketball. And in San Antonio, that simply means more. 

It means everything.

That's why it was so important for Beverage USA Co-Founder and President, Rocco LaVista, and NERD Focus to partner with the Texas-based team. And that they did.

Nerd Focus, the official energy drink of the San Antonio Spurs, has held a partnership with the Texas-based team since March of 2023.

NERD Focus, the official energy drink of the San Antonio Spurs, has been partners with Texas-based since March of 2023.

Photo provided by NERD Focus

Frost Bank, for starters, is the newly-minted jersey-patch sponsor for the Spurs, while H-E-B continues to hold an impressionable presence both inside the arena and on TV

Even Whataburger has a location inside the arena's concourse. In San Antonio, the Spurs are the place to be. That's been made clear.

"We're the only show in town," Spurs shooting guard Doug McDermott said of the relationship between the team and its fans. "Everyone loves the Spurs, and we want to keep that going."

So, with plenty of sponsors and exposure, NERD Focus wanted a chance to be seen at the same level, even sponsoring a Spurs tradition at every game: the Fan of the Game.

"It's awesome," LaVista said. "We've been at game[s] where they do that takeover and, you know, it's a proud moment. We're proud to do it. We're proud to have these partnerships, that's for sure." 

Before Beverage USA, LaVista and NERD Focus got to have their brand’s signature green color displayed at Frost Bank Center, however, they had to start somewhere. And that somewhere was at UTSA, before LaVista even got involved with the company. 

Vin Montes — a student at the time — got together with some of his professors in San Antonio with a goal in mind: to give his fellow Roadrunners a healthier alternative to attaining focus for their studies. 

“He saw that a lot of students were taking Adderall, and other stuff like that,” LaVista said. “He wanted to create a natural alternative for that.” 

So, with his goal in mind and his professors ready to help, Montes developed “NERD.” And as quickly as it came together, it became a hit among his friends and social circles. 

“They actually started selling it on and around campus,” LaVista explained. “It was a real grassroots campaign. And, you know, it took off. They actually got it into a lot of stores.” 

As NERD began to grow, so, too did its visibility and accessibility. Eventually, it reached a point of national interest, where LaVista and his team took over the company from Montes. 

Then a short while later, a re-branded version of Montes’ creation hit the stories in Texas — eventually making its way into H-E-B — and NERD Focus was born boasting a cleaner, sleeker look. 

But despite the updated look and new management, the drink still remained focused — no pun intended — on its roots. 

San Antonio roots. 

“We’re a San Antonio based brand,” LaVista said. “That certainly is a differentiating factor. And as far as other drinks [go], We’re the first of its kind. The original ‘think drink.’” 

Energy drinks, plain and simple, give you energy. That’s what makes the market so saturated. There are countless ways to provide that and countless options for customers to choose from. NERD Focus is another option, but with an added bonus. 

The drink boasts five main ingredients to not only provide energy, but increase brain function. 

Alpha-GPC, Huperzine-A, DMAE, GABA and Ginkgo Biloba headline those added substances, and are listed on each can as a way to promote transparency and the drink’s potential benefits — regardless of if the customer was a usual energy-drink user. 

And safe to say, the Spurs loved it. 

“We welcome the opportunity to partner with a cutting-edge brand like NERD Focus that aligns with our organization’s commitment to innovation and excellence,” VP of Global Partnerships for Spurs Sports & Entertainment Katrina Palanca said when the partnership was announced in March. “Rooted in San Antonio, both the Spurs and NERD represent the potential for growth and success on a global scale.

That growth started with LaVista entering the ring, but has since gone far beyond just him. Joining San Antonio’s professional basketball team just made it that much better. 

“It’s a pretty exciting time to be a part of this organization,” LaVista said. “The cool thing about it is, especially with within the arena, the only energy drink available is NERD Focus. And a lot of people know it because they're from the area.” 

While fans enjoy their Whataburger, popcorn and any other refreshments in-between, they also have the option to grab a can of NERD Focus — which has proven to be a success when paired with the constant advertisement during the games and around the arena.

“Activations at Frost Bank Center … have really led to [our] growth,” LaVista said. “But I think it's really the synergy with all of these partnerships, that has really been the biggest factor in our recent success.” 

And it isn’t just the fans who have bought into the drink and its benefits. 

“Sandro [Mamukelashvili] has definitely tried the drink,” LaVista said with a chuckle. “They sent us a little video clip with him [in it] saying ‘Hey, Rocco. I love nerd. I want to I want to get involved with you guys.’” 

The company at the time didn’t have the capacity to make a sponsorship happen, but it did help them to continue growing their brand and eventually land with the Spurs. 

And now that NERD Focus is the sponsor of each home stand’s Fan of the Game, that door could certainly be opened once again. 

And when it is, LaVista will be the first to hop on the train. Not only as a businessman, but as a Spurs fan. 

“San Antonio’s fanbase is absolutely awesome,” LaVista said. “We’re very, very happy to be a part of it.” 


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