Powerade, which has been quiet on the marketing radar this year, is set to debut their new tagline “Power Through” and new commercial in this year’s NCAA Men’s college basketball tournament.
The main message (from Advertising Age article, link here) states that Powerade realizes they own the challenger status in the category and must work harder to reachthe level of success they want. Their research shows that their core consumers are young athletes, making March Madness and college basketball in general a great platform to reach this demographic. While most professional sports leagues have designated Gatorade as their official sports drink, gaining exclusivity with the college game is a great coup for Powerade. Each year an underdog team ends up getting farther than anticipated in the tournament and becomes a cinderlla story (George Mason in 2006, and Butler & Virginia Commonwealth more recently) – Powerade’s message will undoubtedly resonate strongly with audience that identify with those teams.
While Gatorade owns 70% of the isotonic category, recent statistics indicate the market leader is slipping and Powerade gaining market share. In spite of this, Powerade may be hard pressed to repeat Avis’ We Try Harder marketing campaign from the 1960s, where the challenger brand gained market share dramatically by telling everyone they try harder because they have to. The college platform is much smaller than any professional sports platform since its a shorter season and does not receive as much international exposure nor media support. Powerade itself is not a small or obscure player, and the category is not fragmented either. For every three buyers shopping the category, Gatorade will be chosen by two buyers and Powerade by the other buyer. That said, Powerade may likely see a market share bump especially during this month, but the total market impact may be negligible.
All in all, being the NCAA’s official sports drink helps Powerade gain an important space to connect with consumers and the audience in general, but it does not change too much of the sports drink category.