What’s Up With G?

Posted by truecreek on March 3, 2009 under Opinions. Everyone has them. | 2 Comments to Read

I don’t know about you, but for the life of me I cannot understand the rationale behind the new campaign from Gatorade. Gatorade has the type of  brand history  that most companies today would just die for.  So why would the company throw that all away and confuse everyone with a slick new campaign?

What’s up with G?

To get a good feel for the history of the brand, let’s see what the company has to say about it.  For accuracy, the next few paragraphs are from the official website:

In the early summer of 1965, a University of Florida assistant coach sat down with a team of university physicians and asked them to determine why so many of his players were being affected by heat and heat related illnesses.

The researchers — Dr. Robert Cade, Dr. Dana Shires, Dr. H. James Free and Dr. Alejandro de Quesada — soon discovered two key factors that were causing the Gator players to ‘wilt’: the fluids and electrolytes the players lost through sweat were not being replaced, and the large amounts of carbohydrates the players’ bodies used for energy were not being replenished.

The researchers then took their findings into the lab, and scientifically formulated a new, precisely balanced carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage that would adequately replace the key components lost by Gator players through sweating and exercise. They called their concoction ‘Gatorade’.

So that’s how it all started.

Soon, the drink was a huge success.  After seeing their gridiron fortunes turn around, the Gators attributed their ability to withstand the tremendous heat to the fluids and essential elements in Gatorade.  Of course, word got around and eventually virtually every team in college football had plenty of Gatorade on the sidelines.

Today, over a dozen products and flavors now carry the Gatorade name. Shoot, the drink’s manufacturer, Quaker Oats, thought so highly about it they registered  and trademarked the name.

So what does the agency recommend to the client?  Change it.

Now, I love the art direction and execution and I’ve always been a big fan of b/w television.  The talent chosen for the spots is superb.  The cinematography is excellent and everything is very well written.  But my problem is with the STRATEGY and the rationale.

I would have loved to have been in that presentation.  Just imagine the dancing the creatives had to do with this one.  They sold everyone in that meeting a ton of goods, you know…this is gonna be cool.  But whatever they said in that meeting, it worked.   Quaker Oats decided to change everything, including the packaging, product names, website….the whole enchilada.

The campaign is nothing but a huge financial gamble. Can you just imagine how much it will cost to get the letter “G ” up to the brand recognition numbers the name “Gatorade” has today?

To me, the shop has done the brand and Quaker Oats a tremendous disservice.  Here’s what I think will happen.  I suspect you will see the Gatorade name once again gain greater prominence in the packaging design, as negative numbers start reflecting the lack of enthusiasm with the new direction.  G will slowly fall into obscurity.  But not after millions of dollars will have been put into this misdirected approach.

But that’s just me.  I believe in the power of brand history and to convince a client to make such a radical departure is just irresponsible.

  • wordwrangler said,

    The writer of this article agrees with you that it is a risky strategy by Gatorade

  • Rebecca Flora said,

    This is just a guess, but I wondered if it had to do with the “Gator” name and its association with one school. Although it certainly hasn’t hurt the brand so far. Maybe they should have taken a lesson from Tropicana. The orange juice maker just introduced new, cleaner-looking packaging. Unfortunately, their customers liked the old package just fine. So now the company is changing back to the trusted straw stuck into the orange.

    Big waste of money and big headaches for everyone involved. A few focus groups could have made a big difference.

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