Sunday, February 5, 2012
GATORADE’S NEW CAMPAIGN FEELS LIKE A WINNER
In an on-line article this past week from BusinessInsider.com, writer Jim Edwards aims to qualify the prevailing opinions of the past few years about the Gatorade brand here in the U.S. Most of those opinions—from market analysts and marketing pundits—have flatly asserted that Gatorade’s logo move to “G” and accompanying “That’s G” ad campaign (along with its new product line-up of drinks for before, during, and after workouts) had failed…resulting in large share losses in the sports beverage market. Since 2006, Edwards notes, the brand has lost 10 share points—largely to its #1 rival from The Coca-Cola Company, Powerade.
But Mr. Edwards goes on to cite an important qualification to these data from Citi Drinks analyst, Wendy Nicholson—who notes that during much of this time Gatorade (which grew dollar sales 4% in 2011) has been sold at an 7-8% category premium while Powerade has been sold at an average 19% category discount: “The fact that Pepsi’s Gatorade is posting sales gains on a premium-priced product proves that its brand is strong. Which means that I was wrong when I said last year that the G re-launch had failed.”
But whatever your own personal perspective on the “G” launch, keep this in mind: last year the Gatorade brand in the U.S. had sales of $1.3 billion and a 72% dollar share of the sports drink market—a share almost 3 times larger than that of Coke’s Powerade. Anyone who has ever had the privilege of marketing a 65%+ share brand knows first-hand how very difficult it is to retain, let alone grow, market share when your brand makes such a big target. And while we have not closely tracked the Gatorade brand’s market share over the past ten years or so, we have closely watched—and admired—the way the brand has consistently stuck with and implemented its brand positioning in the marketplace.
What is that brand positioning? Well, neither of us has worked on the Gatorade brand nor have we even consulted with them. So we cannot claim to have direct access to the brand’s positioning statement. But, like most loyal consumers of any brand, we can claim to have examined many of the things the brand has done in the market…which are always the best indicators of what the brand-building team intends the brand’s positioning to be. And one more thing: we have never forgotten what a previous Gatorade President said in a marketing publication (going back almost fifteen years now): namely, that the Gatorade brand intended to be perceived as, not merely another or even the leading sports drink, but rather as the ultimate liquid athletic equipment. Those five words seem to us to be an accurate sound-byte of the Gatorade brand positioning.
If you merely consider just a few of the initiatives that the Gatorade brand has pioneered, you can readily see how consciously their marketers have been adhering to this brand positioning for some time now:
1. The mini-cooler packaging for their powder version;
2. Widening the “mouth” of the primary multi-serve bottles;
3. The “pull-with-your-teeth” sports cap bottle;
4. Introduction of, not simply another water, but a “Fitness Water”;
5. Creation of a real, working institute: The Sports Science Institute.
Each of these moves builds the impression that Gatorade is not merely a drink, but it’s athletic equipment.
Given this positioning history, it’s no wonder that Gatorade’s new ad campaign finally and explicitly communicates the same thing. Here’s the way this new campaign was described in a January 2012 issue of Advertising Age: “Gatorade is ringing in the New Year with a tagline and aggressive campaign…pitting nutrition against athletic gear in the battle for consumers’ dollars.” The new tagline is “Win From Within.” But it’s the actual voiceover and alpha athlete testimonial copy in the individual ads that really bring home the longstanding positioning of Gatorade as athletic equipment: “You moisture-wicking fabric isn’t enough. Your zero-weight shoes aren’t enough. Your carbon-fiber racket isn’t enough. Nothing you put on is.”
And if you listen carefully to the alpha athlete spots, which feature athletes from a wide range of sports, you appreciate even more how convincingly the brand is reinforcing its ultimate athletic equipment positioning. Take, for example, these excerpts from the Dwyane Wade spot (which, like all the others, opens with the billboard statement, “What I Can’t Compete Without”):
--“I do need my music…my ipod.”
--“One thing I couldn’t compete without is my sneakers.”
--“Towards the end of the game it doesn’t matter what sneakers I
--“I make sure I have the drinks I need…and contact Gatorade to make
sure I have the fuel I need.”
There is one other thing about this new ad campaign—beyond its tight link back to the brand positioning—that suggests it should be a winner. Remember the campaign that ran up until the introduction of “G”? The one in which alpha athletes (and everyday athletes) who were competing with intensity and, accordingly, actually sweat Gatorade during their performance—the one that carried the tagline, “Is it in you?” That campaign delivered the two driving benefits from the Gatorade brand positioning: functionally, to perform better; and emotionally, to feel like a winner. This new “Win From Within” campaign continues delivering those same positioning benefits, but in a refreshing new way.
Looking at all the Gatorade moves, consistently in-synch with their clever, differentiating positioning sound-byte (“ultimate liquid athletic equipment”), this is a brand you have to admire. Come to think of it, it’s more than this—it’s brand-building you have to admire.
BOATS & HELICOPTERS
- Although we have termed Gatorade’s “ultimate liquid athletic equipment” their positioning sound-byte here, those of you who have been following Dispatches for a few years may recall that we have often referred to the same sound-byte as the Perceptual Competitive Framework part of the Gatorade brand positioning. It happens to work as both. But the point is that, once you perceive your brand as more than, bigger than, different than all the other similar brands in your category, you have made a big breakthrough. By getting your target consumers or customers to perceive the brand in the same way, you make your brand more competitive as well.
- The Gatorade ad campaign transition—from “Is it in you?” to “Win From Within” is a great model that more brands should aim to follow. What better way to sustain the internalization of your brand’s positioning benefits than by relentlessly sticking with them as you move from one idea to the next?
- Along these same lines, it’s also especially powerful to have sets of Key Copy Words (what some call taglines) that not only deliver the brand’s positioning benefits, but do so in highly memorable and repeatable ways.
Richard Czerniawski & Mike Maloney
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