Gatorade Turns 50 in 2015

Gatorade celebrate's its 50th birthday with a commercial highlighting its most memorable sports moment.
Gatorade celebrate’s its 50th birthday with a commercial highlighting its most memorable sports moment.

It’s been 50 years since Gatorade was created by a team of University of Florida scientists to help the Gators football team stay hydrated.  Since then, the sports drink giant has created a beverage category that helps athletes replenish  lost electrolytes.  The brand kicked off its half-century birthday celebrations with a commercial titled “50” that highlights memorable moments in its history.  While I’m not familiar with most of the memorable moments, the folks over at Slate have captured these 50 Gatorade memorable moments (link here).  The commercial highlights some athletes multiple times, as it would appear that some athletes have been critical to Gatorade’s place in history.  Will the brand embrace more retro ads this year?  It seems they have already done so.  Check out the Gatorade “50” commercial below:

After releasing this ad to close off 2014, Gatorade also went retro with another one of their more recent advertisements.  They have gone back to one of the brand’s most popular athletes to help commemorate their birthday.  Near mid-February, Gatorade released a remastered version of their “Be Like Mike” Micheal Jordan commercial.  Jordan was one of the company’s first athlete spokespersons, and serves as a symbol of their longstanding partnership with the NBA. See the new (old) commercial below:

This isn’t the first time that Gatorade has gone back to Micheal Jordan or retro advertisements to tout the brand’s place in sports.  Consumers certainly still connect with Micheal Jordan as one of basketball’s greatest athletes, and the athlete himself can be seen with Gatorade products frequently through his successful NBA career.  Putting a second focus on something that has worked well in the past is also nothing new in the advertising world.  Brands go back to defining moments to stir up nostalgia in hopes of recreating the magic.

This would make sense for Gatorade since the hydration segment has become fragmented in the years since its inception.  Next to Powerade are energy drinks, coconut water, flavored water, and a host of other alternatives.  Consumers have more beverage choices now when it comes to hydration and recovery.  Gatorade’s competition is stronger than ever, and it would serve the brand well to remind consumers of why it mattered to them in the first place.  And to help remind them, Gatorade is also bringing back Citrus Cooler, one of its discontinued but more popular drink flavors. Further cementing the retro theme, Citrus Cooler will return in old Gatorade bottles and labels.

Gatorade has accumulated a rich history over the past 50 years and has developed a dominant market position relative to its main competitor.  Bringing back a sports icon to commemorate a birthday is one thing and a great first step.  For their next act, Gatorade must search out new moments to relate to today’s athletes and consumers.

Gatorade's Citrus Cooler returns to the market in March 2015.
Gatorade’s Citrus Cooler returns to the market in March 2015.
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Is Mountain Dew Kickstart Taking on Gatorade?

Mountain Dew Kickstart's line-up: Fruit Punch, Orange Citrus, Pineapple Orange Mango, Strawberry Kiwi, Black Cherry, and Limade.  Image courtesy of stupiddope.com.
Mountain Dew Kickstart’s line-up: Fruit Punch, Orange Citrus, Pineapple Orange Mango, Strawberry Kiwi, Black Cherry, and Limade. Image courtesy of stupiddope.com.

Following on one of their most successful drink launches in recent memory, Mountain Dew has added two additional offerings under their Kickstart drink portfolio.  The Kickstart offshoot started to segment drinks by dayparts in 2013 and brought out two beverages targeting morning consumption.  In 2014 they followed on the morning drinks with two more flavors catered toward evening occasions.  Their most recent offerings – Pineapple Orange Mango and Strawberry Kiwi – are infused with coconut water (full press release found here), but does not overtly fit an actual drinking occasion.  This makes the latest launch appear off strategy because it’s not geared specifically toward the morning, afternoon, or evening.  How do these two drinks fit into the Kickstart portfolio?  What is the purpose of this launch?

The “fit” debate may very well go back to the purpose of coconut water.  Coconut water was targeted as a healthier alternative to sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade.  On an equivalized volume comparison, coconut water contains similar amounts of electrolytes but fewer calories and sodium, making it a strong substitute for the sports drinks marketed toward fitness-oriented consumers.  In essence standalone coconut water is meant for hydration and recovery purposes.  When mixed with Mountain Dew’s caffeinated citrus sodas, these drinks could be positioned as competition to sports drinks.  A lightly carbonated energy drinks – with juice flavors and coconut water – can be termed as a hydration drink to compete with the Gatorades and Powerades out there.  These latest release of Mountain Dew Kickstart would not need to fit under a daypart segmentation.  It could be a morning drink for people that exercise in the morning, or it could also serve an evening recovery drink after workout or recreational sports.

Mountain Dew's Kickstart newly launched flavors: Pineapple Orange Mango and Strawberry Kiwi.  Both variants are infused with coconut water.  Image courtesy of PRNewswire.com.
Mountain Dew’s Kickstart newly launched flavors: Pineapple Orange Mango and Strawberry Kiwi. Both variants are infused with coconut water. Image courtesy of PRNewswire.com.

If this is Mountain Dew Kickstart’s positioning around the new offerings, the only challenge would be where caffeine fits into the equation.  Sports drinks are supposed to replenish what the body loses during sport events (electrolytes, sugars, salts, liquids) and caffeine would not fall under this criteria.  While the body may craves some energy following an intense workout, it could be debated that the workout itself provides energy as a result of the activities.  Caffeinated sports drinks may not be detrimental like alcoholic energy drinks but it’s relevance is questionable due to the caffeine.  This may ultimately be an attempt to expand the Mountain Dew masterbrand beyond soda and energy drinks by reaching toward athletic consumers.

Or is it?

This brings us to the purpose of launching these two flavors of Mountain Dew Kickstart.  Bevnet’s Neil Martinez-Belkin suggested this launch had more to do with creating success for O.N.E coconut water brand than extending Mountain Dew’s reach (article link here).  Martinez-Belkin reminds us that months ago PepsiCo expressed intentions to include coconut water as an ingredient across multiple lines of business.  Driving Kickstart infused with coconut water is simply a method of increasing coconut water;s public exposure.  It may be because after buying O.N.E. coconut water that the beverage brand is still lacking robust market exposure.  This make senses given both Coca-Cola and Pepsi – owners of ZICO and O.N.E – have re-deployed efforts to focus on their core business: carbonated soda.  Marrying a powerhouse brand like Mountain Dew with coconut water increases coconut water’s consumer relevance without having to fully invest behind coconut water as a beverage brand.  This is not to say that Pepsi may not be supporting O.N.E. coconut water in the future, it just means they are looking for creative options to build up the coconut water segment.

The Mountain Dew Kickstart launch raises a few eyebrows though it helps coconut water more than it appears in the public eye.  For a global beverage manufacturer where many products fighting to keep their budgets, this is a creative way to grow a business that may be losing the fight to maintain funding against other beverages in Pepsi’s portfolio.  O.N.E. coconut water would justify increased budgets if these two new Kickstart flavors sold well.  And if this experiment is a hit between Mountain Dew and coconut water, we could see Tropicana infused with coconut water or even Pepsi cola infused with coconut water in a few years.  If that does happen, you can point to the success of Mountain Dew, which has been one of Pepsi’s increasingly consumed soda brands despite the overall declines in soda.

 

The O.N.E. coconut water line-up for Canada. Is the U.S. looking to grow this brand by marrying up coconut water with more lines of product?
The O.N.E. coconut water line-up for Canada. Is the U.S. looking to grow this brand by marrying up coconut water with more lines of product?

Powerade’s 2014 World Cup Campaign Highlights Real Heroes

Courtesy of endomondo.com
Courtesy of endomondo.com

I wasn’t following the 2010 FIFA World Cup close enough to notice when advertising started appearing, but it looks like Powerade and other advertisers want to get a head start for the 2014 FIFA World Cup promotions.  With the World Cup starting in June, Powerade has already released FIFA World Cup commercials.  Here’s the full-length 60-second ad found on YouTube that features both professional and amateur soccer players, launched on YouTube more than a month ago.

This commercial happens to be the first time that Powerade has featured amateur soccer players in a global campaign.  The Powerade advertisement includes five amateur soccer players selected from the U.S., Spain, and Brazil.  These individuals star alongside Spain’s Andres Iniesta, who famously put scored the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup.  Since the tagline is “There’s Power in Every Game”, it makes sense to include other soccer players at different competition levels to help forge a stronger connection to the sport and to Powerade.

Similar to the Procter&Gamble “Thank You Mom” campaign where mothers of Olympic athletes were highlighted to add more context, bringing in amateur soccer players helps humanize the athlete and focus on how they train and prepare.  More importantly, it shines a light on the different adversities athletes must go through in order to attain success.  The spot brings this adversity even closer to home, weaving a story line where the amateur soccer players and Iniesta encounter similar  events during the course of their soccer game.  As one player is tripped during a game, so is Iniesta during one of his games.  As another player is training or resting to prepare for a soccer match, so too is Iniesta.

As a global campaign, there is customization that caters to the local geography.   Powerade has created different backstories for each of the amateur athletes to run in key geographies.  Each player has a different theme that Powerade showcases to help them find their inner power and overcome a challenging situation.  They are featured in a two-minute video where the athlete discusses the challenges they’ve had to personally overcome.  The feature ends with a callout to publicize the theme each athlete represents.  With the U.S.’s Nico Calabria, the common characteristic is “Power in Purpose”.  For Brazil’s Haboubakar Amadou Conde, this theme is translated as the “Power in Determination”.  Spain’s Erik Flores is presented as the “Power in Confidence”.  With Brazil’s Marcelo Lyras, it becomes “Power in Preparation”.  And for Spain’s Karlota Planas, the characteristic is “Power in Pushing Yourself”.  These videos indicate that “Power” is represented differently for each athlete, and conveys the message that everyone defines their motivation in a unique way.

In some ways, soccer is an escape from their personal struggles.  Within these feature videos, Powerade describes additional themes that athletes must “Power Through” to get to their current state.  Athletes continue to defy expectations and failure, in addition to overcoming challenges that deter them from pursuing their goals.

Here’s one of the struggles that Powerade highlights, that of Haboubakar Amadou Conde.  Conde had to overcome language barrier, failure, and homelessness in order to continue playing soccer.

As companies continue leveraging on emotion in their marketing campaigns, the key to success  lies in execution.  If executed perfectly, the beverage brand can foster a strong and genuine connection with many viewers.  I believe this campaign to be well-delivered and creates the emotional link Powerade wants to create.  Check out the Powerade YouTube channel for the other feature videos.

Coca-Cola Expands “Official” Olympic Drink Portfolio

Courtesy of eprize.com

It’s another year for the Olympic games, this time in Sochi.  For Coca-Cola, every Olympic year is a boon based on the event partnership agreement where they hold the distinction of official Olympic non-alcoholic beverage partner.  As one of the Olympics’ global partners, the beverage giant pays about $100M to monopolize non-alcoholic beverage serving rights in all Olympic venues (other global partners hold exclusivity in their respective industries).  In recent years, the definition of “non-alcoholic beverage” has expanded to include more than just carbonated soft drinks.  Coca-Cola has gained exclusivity to serve sports drinks (Powerade), juices (Minute Maid), and waters (Dasani, vitaminwater) over the past few Olympics games.  The “Olympic Wolrdwide Partner” logo has also started appearing on Coca-Cola’s ZICO coconut water brand lately.  So given the substantial cost, how beneficial is it for Coca-Cola to be a worldwide Olympic partner?  And with the expanded definition of “non-alcoholic beverage”, which product categories are next to gain Official Olympic product status?

Despite a cost of $100M each active Olympic year, Coca-Cola has renewed their Olympic partnership until 2020.  It would appear that this agreement delivers substantive returns.  For one, Coca-Cola has blocked out their global competitor in all product categories that the conglomerate participates in.  No Pepsi-branded soft drinks, Aquafina, Gatorade, or Tropicana can be served within all Olympic-event venues.  Brand visibility is another partnership benefit.  Every game or after-party event that becomes broadcasted will feature a Coca-Cola logo or Coca-Cola beverage product.  Live viewers and spectators may only celebrate with Coca-Cola branded products and nothing else.  Positive associations is another partnership benefit.  Spectators seeing their athletes win also see them hydrating themselves with Coca-Cola products.  These same spectators will associate hard work, performance, and winning all being supported by Coca-Cola.  From a qualitative perspective, these are invaluable benefits that Coca-Cola has been able to enjoy – reduced competition, brand visibility, and positive associations.

Courtesy of designyoutrust.com

With changing taste preferences among spectators and athletes alike, incorporating other product categories as “Official Drinks” certainly makes sense.  Some people will choose carbonated soft drinks, some will want flavored water, and still some people prefer juices.  With coconut water emerging as a beverage category, expansion to include this as an Olympic-approved beverage makes sense.  However, increased exposure of Olympic branding potentially cheapens the Olympic brand with broader availability on all products – not just beverages.  Furthermore, not all products will be suitable to display the Olympic logo on its packaging.  For example, energy drinks may be one category that could be denied Official Olympic product status given possible negative associations despite the category growth.  Within Coca-Cola beverage portfolio, it’s likely that liquid enhancers (Dasani Drops, Powerade Drops) and teas (Honest Tea, Fuze) could gain approval should they apply for it.  Both these categories are enjoying growth and have fewer negative associations portrayed by the media.

Coca-Cola has been one of many key sponsors that has supported the Olympic games through the years, and it appears that both parties are satisfied with the results.  2020 is still three more Olympic games away, but given the goodwill both parties have been generated, it’s very possible that this relationship goes well beyond 2020.

Pepsi Launches Liquid Enhancers: Aquafina FlavorSplash

The new Aquafina FlavorSplash line-up: sparkling water and liquid enhancers.  Courtesy of facebook.com
The new Aquafina FlavorSplash line-up: sparkling water and liquid enhancers. Courtesy of facebook.com

It’s been a few years after Kraft MiO revolutionized flavor enhancers, but Pepsi has finally launched their own liquid enhancers under the Aquafina water brand.  Following a beverage portfolio evaluation that lasted nearly 12 months, Pepsi will overhaul Aquafina FlavorSplash to include new sparkling water flavors and liquid enhancers.  On the liquid enhancer front, they will have three offerings: So Strawberry, Berry On, and World Peach.  Pepsi’s offerings are targeted toward a younger demographic primarily aged 13-19 years old (more on that later).  After waiting so long to enter this beverage segment, will Pepsi see success?

With another household name entering the segment – be it Pepsi or Aquafina – liquid enhancers as a segment benefits from more media support.  Like Coca-Cola, Pepsi has their own distribution network as well as their own merchandising and cooler units.  Having your own branded equipment assets are important for consistent communication, and even more crucial to ensure flawless execution.  As we have seen Powerade Zero Drops and Dasani Drops merchandised within Coca-Cola coolers, we can expect Pepsi to do the same with Aquafina FlavorSplash droplets.  This will help Pepsi get prime location space within grocery channels and restaurant establishments to display their newest products.

Aquafina FlavorSplash Berry On flavor.  Courtesy of facebook.com
Aquafina FlavorSplash Berry On flavor. Courtesy of facebook.com

By targeting a younger demographic, Pepsi aims to introduce consumers to their beverages at earlier life stages.  While appealing to the product’s purchaser (moms) is a different challenge, Pepsi hopes teens will be able to influence the purchase decision.  If not, Aquafina FlavorSplash may be something teens can still buy in school.  AdAge’s article detailing the Aquafina FlavorSplash interviews Pepsi’s CMO Simon Lowden, which describes the possibility at getting Aquafina FlavorSplash stocked in high schools as well (article link here).  The younger demographic puts Pepsi’s liquid enhancer in a niche where no other competitive liquid enhanced is targeting.  So far, young adults, athletes, and tea drinkers have been the general target.

The product packaging itself will spur interest, as the candy-colored packaging is brightly colored that will attract the demographic’s attention.  With unique flavor names – unlike the many berry-pomegranates and mango-peaches on the shelf – the flavors should stand out among the competitive set as well.

As a new player enters the segment, retailers and consumers will benefit from all the healthy competition for their dollars and chance to quench their thirst.  Pepsi will see success within this segment, given messaging toward an audience where no other brand is explicitly communicating toward, their own equipment assets that allow for prime product placement opportunities, and a product that is on part with market trends.  Even with all the competition within the liquid enhancer landscape – Kraft, Dasani, Powerade Zero, Crystal Light, and Nestea to name but a few – Pepsi’s Aquafina FlavorSplash should be able to garner healthy sales.

Nestea Enters Crowded Liquid Enhancers Space

Nestea's Liquid Water Enhancer - image courtesy of bevnet.com
Nestea’s Liquid Water Enhancer – image courtesy of bevnet.com

It seems that Nestea is primed to enter the liquid enhancers space soon (link here).  In a segment that grows increasingly crowded with strong brand names like Kraft MiO, Crystal Light Liquid, Dasani Drops, Powerade Zero Drops, is this the right decision by Nestea to enter with their own liquid enhancer?  Aside from the well-known branded players, a host of grocery retailers already have their own store brand (per this BevReview article, Walmart, Supervalu and Winn-Dixie all have their own versions).  Can this beverage segment sustain another branded player?  With various offerings available and finite space in the grocery aisle, will this launch actually be beneficial?  It depends on who you talk to.

First, let’s take a look at what Nestea is introducing to the marketplace.  Nestea Liquid Water Enhancer will arrive exclusively to Target in three flavors:  Iced Tea with Lemon, Iced Tea with Peach and Half & Half Iced Tea.  Another flavor will hit the rest of the market afterwards: Green Tea Citrus.  The Nestea Liquid Water Enhancers will be available in 26-serving bottles.  Because there is no other tea-based liquid enhancer in the marketplace, the Nestea product is unique and certainly adds value to the grocery aisle.  The consumer will now be able to find their Nestea drink mixes in both powder and liquid formats.  So Nestea benefits from this product launch, giving themselves a broader consumer reach.  Now that Nestea has a unique product, they just need to go and “sell” it to the grocery retailer that their product is beneficial for them too.

Retailers, however, may interpret this as more of a headache than anything.  With liquid enhancers expanding so rapidly, it looks like manufacturers just want to launch a product and get in on the gold rush.  With another product added to the overall consideration set, the retailers must decide which ones to carry and help them grow their business.  Do they maintain the same space in the grocery aisle for these products?  Or should they rationalize some other products?  The retailer may simply pass the problem on to manufacturers, and have them create the most compelling sell story to gain retailer distribution.  What may ensue should certainly benefit consumers and retailers: manufacturers will undoubtedly be offering some form of pricing and promotional support to get them to take their product in-store.

Coca-Cola's Powerade Zero Drops - image courtesy of coca-colacompany.com
Coca-Cola’s Powerade Zero Drops – image courtesy of coca-colacompany.com

For liquid enhancers and the consumer, Nestea’s entry is a positive addition.  Nestea’s entry carves out a niche for tea-based liquid enhancers, similar to how Powerade Zero Drops and MiO Fit created the sports niche.  Despite further fragmenting liquid enhancers into more beverage segments, this launch will be beneficial to the category.  As more marketing dollars get behind liquid enhancers, this may spell opportunity for even more product launches.  If consumers are willing to mix water with enhancers for caffeine, electrolytes, and tea, what else may they be interested in?  How about juices?  Or carbonated soda?  In due time, consumers may be able to find liquid enhancers for any beverage that is currently available in can or bottle format.

While the Nestea launch further crowds the liquid enhancer market, it still benefits everyone.  Consumers get another liquid enhancer choice.  Nestea improve their consumer reach.  And retailers linking these two groups together will be rewarded with more profits.

MiO Sport: Fit For Any Occasion

Courtesy of funnycommercialsworld.com
The office worker is now a basketball celebrity.  Courtesy of funnycommercialsworld.com

MiO Sport is Kraft’s latest innovation in their liquid enhancers Canadian product line (MiO Fit is what is introduced in the U.S).  While the product has been available since their February 2013 Super Bowl ad, they had not implemented any video promotions in Canada.  Until now.  Re-positioning the product as “MiO Sport”, they have released two commercials to talk about MiO Sport in the Canadian marketplace.

Here’s the MiO Sport commercial “Swish” from early May 2013:

It doesn’t take long for the viewer to guess what is being advertised in these commercials.  Notice that neither of these commercials mentioned anything about it “changing everything?”  It is because they have already educated the consumer on what MiO is and how to use it; the video itself implies that MiO Sport changes everything.  The next step is to show different situations to use MiO Sport.

With regard to the Swish commercial, the commercial follows the same structure as their previous MiO ad spot.  The original video was based in an office setting and featured the same office guy.  Every time the scene cuts from one person talking to another person, something changes.  This commercial’s ultimate message is very similar to the original MiO video: squirting MiO Sport into your water changes everything.  And then you see all the crazy situations of how this regular office worker (definitely not athletic) transforms into an outrageously successful basketball player.  It’s so over-the-top that its believable.  MiO Sport is not advertising that squirting MiO turns you into a successful athlete, rather it is making fun of it.  And that keeps with the brand’s personality.

And here’s their latest commercial “Eye of the Squirter” from July 2013:

Their second commercial “Eye of the Squirter” is different from their previous commercials.  While the main character is still the same person in the previous two ad spots, they are no longer set in the same environment that changes multiple times.  This time it is sporting activities in various environments, such as the track, the swimming pool, and the hockey locker room.   Notice that these sports also have a stronger Canadian tone to them?  While MiO itself wasn’t introduced outright from the beginning, it becomes obvious what is being advertised given the visual cues.  The advertisement’s goal is to show you that MiO Sport is a fitting hydration choice for any activities – even if it is power walking on the track.

Do either of these commercials spur you to hydrate yourself with MiO Sport?  After all, it does appear that MiO Sport is targeting a different consumer segment.  While Powerade and Gatorade are after the serious athlete, MiO Sport is only targeting the casual athlete and the average-fit consumer.  There are more people that match this consumer group than that of the serious athlete.  My guess is that the MiO Sport does have a strong appeal in the Canadian marketplace, and we should see sales taking off soon enough – if it hasn’t already.

It’s also an interesting note that these commercials are not strictly made for TV, rather it is made for YouTube and a version of it is released for TV (a topic I will highlight in a separate post).  If you don’t believe me, feel free to click into all the separate “hidden” commercials that they talk about.

Liquid Enhancer Segment Legitimized With Powerade Launch

Sourced from www.coca-colacompany.com
Sourced from http://www.coca-colacompany.com

Funny how just a few years ago, no one has ever heard of liquid flavor enhancers but now many people have heard about and possibly tried MiO.  This is due in no small part to Kraft, which created the product segment and put a lot of marketing support behind their MiO to introduce and educate consumers on how to use this product.  And as Dasani introduced their own liquid enhancer to capitalize on the market trend, Kraft innovated to stay ahead of its competition.  These innovations include employing a dual brand strategy by launching Crystal Light Liquid, as well as extending MiO’s platform by branching out to energy and sports drinks.  With recent news about Powerade coming out with a liquid enhancer, this segment appears to provide legitimate profitable returns for manufacturers.  However, is the segment itself big enough for so many different branded offerings?  Will this spur Pepsi to participate in some shape or form?  Possibly with a Gatorade drop to maintain their market share in sports drinks?

Courtesy of www.makeitmio.com
Courtesy of http://www.makeitmio.com

Liquid enhancers have enormous growth potential and despite its infancy, have extended across sports drinks and energy drinks.  This has certainly broadened its consumer appeal and increased the segment’s awareness and adoption rates.  However, the segment still appears to be crowded with four branded players: MiO, Crystal Light, Dasani, and now Powerade.  And it only looks that way because the segment itself is still small.  For all the excitement around MiO, it is still only a $200-$300 million brand.  Combined with Crystal Light, Dasani, Powerade, and even private-label offerings, the segment itself is not predicted to be over $500 million.  But with more advertising support behind each of these beverage properties as well as higher levels of consumer adoption, the segment will grow to be large enough to house these four liquid enhancer brands.  MiO will certainly be rewarded for being the first mover.  Consider this the initial stage of energy shots, when 5-Hr Energy was the only one in the segment and it took some time to gain sales.  As more companies introduced their own energy shots, the segment gained popularity and market size.  Through all this, 5-Hr Energy became the de facto leader in energy shots and rebuffed Red Bull, Rockstar, and Monster.  5-Hr Energy capitalized on the news that other energy drink manufacturers brought to the segment and benefitted from being the most recognized name among the consideration set.  So while it currently appears that liquid enhancers is congested, the potential size of the segment mirrors energy shots, and may even outpace it given less consumer backlash.

With great potential, comes great competition.  We’ve seen Coca-Cola wait for Kraft to prove that this is a viable segment, and then furiously pursue them with their own offerings.  Why has Pepsi not done anything yet?  A Gatorade Drop would certainly gain lots of attention among athletes, not to mention give them another extension to complement their Gatorade Chew.  Pepsi could also come out with a tea offering to start off in a segment where there are no current liquid enhancers (though there are rumors that AriZona is coming out with one soon.)  Given that liquid enhancers can be sold warm and are so compact, they can be stocked on shelves and also at the cash register as consumers complete their purchases.  Pepsi would be missing out on a large opportunity if their only presence were in coolers or displays – far away from the point of purchase.  My guess is that they are likely in the works to launch their own enhancer soon, but only time will tell.

Liquid enhancers are here to stay and has proven to be rich opportunity for the participants.  As the segment gets bigger, it will spell of a missed opportunity for Pepsi if they remain on the sidelines.

Gatorade Lightning Bolt: Part of Every Athlete’s Success

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 Gatorade beverage in its original state, glass bottle with “Gatorade” written on tape. Image sourced from fastocreate.com

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.

Powerade Continues March Madness Underdog Commercials

Powerade continues its underdog status with another March Madness #PowerThrough campaign

Have you seen the latest Powerade commercial?  It doesn’t explicitly say it’s for March Madness (which they did with their Coke Zero March Madness Campaign), but it’s still the same underlying message, and they are releasing this right when March Madness started.  It seems that I was wrong after only seeing a Coke Zero commercial for March Madness this year.  Coca-Cola is not only leveraging from a position of strength with their zero-calorie soft drink, but also continuing to capitalize on their underdog status with their sports drinks.  Why is there a need to also release a commercial and reminder for Powerade during March Madness, especially since they have already done an ad spot for Coke Zero?  Won’t this be conflicting, and hurt their overall business?

In the spirit of continuing their March Madness underdog theme, releasing a commercial that celebrates and glorifies the little guy is the right thing to do.  Consider also the tweets the Powerade account sent out to support the Harvard Crimson basketball team which won its first NCAA game over New Mexico.  Consider also the Sweet 16 round still involved three double-digit-ranking basketball schools in this year’s do-or-die tournament: Florida Gulf Coast University, Oregon, and La Salle.  Even the Final Four include Wichita State, which is the ninth-ranked seed for the West region.

Here’s the Powerade commercial below:

While the Coke Zero commercial focuses on the spectator, Powerade caters to the athlete.  A different target market, a different user.  That alone should imply minimal cannibalization since these are two different groups of people.  By implementing a dual brand strategy this year – instead of switching the focus to a broader audience base as I had previously believed – Coca-Cola is increasing their investment and support behind this event.  Although this should not hurt their business, there is minimal cross-benefit since these are two different beverage segment  and two different buyers.  In actuality, Coke Zero may simply be a blocking tactic to keep competitive soda messaging from dominating the tv screens during the tournament, and Powerade may be a investmentt tactic for their college messaging to show their collegiate athlete support.

At the very root of this commercial is Powerade’s message that they are still the underdog and they dare you to doubt them.  Which ultimately implies that Powerade may have some plans this year to trim Gatorade’s share leadership beyond March Madness.  Keep on the lookout for more Powerade activity.