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To begin the new year, Gatorade is resolving on a rebranding strategy and new ad campaign. The company that put electrolytes in sports celebrities such as Tiger Woods, Mia Hamm, and Michael Jordan is suffering slipping sales, and the company is trying something new.

Pepsi Co’s Gatorade controls 76 percent of the sports drink market but has lost market share to Coca-Cola’s Powerade in the past two years and also suffered inroads by Coca-Cola’s Vitaminwater as a popular substitute. Vitaminwater seems new and fresh compared with Gatorade, a drink consumers have known for a long time. The sports drink category continues to grow, among both athletes and nonathletes.

The new campaign notes this latter target market and features Lil’Wayne, asking, “What’s G?” as well as casually dressed sports legends such as Serena Williams, Bill Russell, and Muhammad Ali. The rapper then proclaims, “the heart, hustle, and soul of athleticism.” Online ads on YouTube feature other hip-hop stars performing the ad.

Yet none of these ads ever mention Gatorade. The company hopes to create a teaser that forces consumers to guess what the advertisement is selling. Many consumers guessed the ads were for Nike. The company adds that it does not intend to trick consumers but rather make them curious enough to go online and find out who is creating the ads.

With the new campaign, Gatorade has revealed new packaging in an attempt to appeal to everyday, modern consumers. The ads will appear during the Super Bowl to launch the “quest for G.” The ad campaign will cost $150 million.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why is Gatorade rebranding?

Suzanne Vranica and Betsy McKay, “Gatorade Quietly Aims to Revive Brand,” The Wall Street Journal, January 7, 2009.