I read an interesting article on the recent transformation of Gatorade and the effectiveness of its new marketing strategy. Naturally I chose to take this topic to the blogosphere. 4 years ago, just months before Sarah Robb O’Hagan took over Gatorade, the brand used two Super Bowl commercials, one starring Yankee great Derek Jeter, to launch a new low-calorie drink. The ads–and the drink–were largely ignored by fans and critics alike. Ironically Gatorade, the brand prized on it’s nature of performance, was going downhill and losing fast to it’s competitors. Robb O’Hagan chose an entirely new target audience, one that would cater to the PepsiCo brand’s athletic prowess. She chose to target high school athletes and fitness and endurance junkies, both making up 46% of all sales. In targeting these new audiences Robb O’Hagan had to devise an entirely new marketing strategy.
Cutting the TV budget (previously 90%) she decided to go dighas ital investing in websites that high-performance athletes visit to about fitness. Gatorade also changed its product. Instead of coming out with monotonous new flavors it added energy gels and bars for before exercise, and developed protein-infused smoothies and shakes for recovery.
Re-inventing Gatorade as a “hub of fitness knowledge” Robb O’Hagan planned to emphasize the already existing Gatorade Sports Science Institute— a 1,500-square-foot facility designed to help sponsored athletes improve body composition. Robb O’Hagan and her team created a makeshift GSSI at a conference in Indianapolis and brought the concept to the masses. They wanted consumers to be able to, “come in, be tested, and leave with a comprehensive nutrition and fitness plan.”
The most visible link between success and the brand’s strategy is the relationship it has with pro athletes. Robb O’Hagan asks, “”Why on earth would you spend money on Super Bowl ads when players are drinking our products during the entire game?” Instead of allotting its entire budget to TV ads, Gatorade resides inside the bodies of famous athletes–an ad that speaks for itself.