I’m hoping by now that almost all consumers have seen this ad by Gatorade titled “Lightning Bolt”. The ad starts off by depicting tired athletes during a football game and the school’s science professors oncocting a beverage that will refresh and energize the players. The rest of the commercial showcases athletes training, performing, and celebrating key moments with quick clips of Gatorade logos and cups. The ending is what we are all accustomed to with the “With From Within” tagline. Does this advertisement’s message come through clearly? Does it inspire action from the viewers, leading to incremental sales for Gatorade?
The former about message communication is simple and clear. Gatorade is training and celebrating with you, as you reach for the height of your sport. The hydration beverage shows successful athletes during different cycles of their sports life to communicate the fact that winning doesn’t just happen over night. This requires regimented training and preparation first. Even as an athlete competes and finally reaches the pinnacle of their respective sports, Gatorade is a partner with them at these different touchpoints. So the message remains pretty clear that if you want to win, you need Gatorade to help you train. And when you reach the end goal, Gatorade is there to celebrate with you.
The latter question is a little more challenging to answer. Whether sales are truly incremental (or wholly generated) as a result of the commercial are very difficult to track. However, consider the timing of when this commercial was introduced: during NCAA March Madness when Powerade released their own ad (read my analysis on that commercial here). The point of Gatorade’s advertisement may not actually have been to stimulate sales, rather it was to protect their sales. Since Powerade always plays up its underdog status, and there were many people watching March Madness, Gatorade needed to react and maintain their presence. So the key measure of whether the “Lightning Bolt” media spot actually reached measured success may actually been seeing that sales levels held constant to prior year or prior months, rather that a decline in sales due to Powerade’s activity.
Large corporations – or business units in this case – typically conduct a high level of tracking to monitor competitive activity. That’s just good business sense in order to preserve your own level of success. Gatorade’s message is clear and a continuation of what they have advertised in the past few years. Gatorade will help you prepare and later celebrate the victory. It certainly will be interesting to answer the question of whether sales activity shifted in any direction as a result of this ad, but only those within the two beverage units will truly know the answer to that.