SBD/Issue 163/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Say No To H2O? Gatorade's Latest Ads Directly Take On Tap Water

Gatorade’s latest ad involves “trash-talk” aimed at water, which the brand “sees as its main competition,” according to Jeremiah McWilliams of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. A print ad running in Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine and Us Weekly includes the copy, “Water has no carbs. Water has no electrolytes. Water has no game. Water just can't compare with 40 years of elite-level hydration.” PepsiCo said that “many beleaguered consumers turned to tap water to save money in the last two years or so,” and that trend "was a culprit in Gatorade’s sales decline in 2009.” PepsiCo, which also sells Aquafina bottled water, “insists that water is a bigger threat to Gatorade than Vitaminwater and Smartwater, both of which are sold by archrival Coca-Cola.” The ads also “ignore Coca-Cola’s Powerade brand, which controls more than 20 percent of the sports drink market and has taken market share from Gatorade this year,” according to Nielsen Co. Gatorade “wants to remind sideline moms and actual athletes that Gatorade provides benefits that water doesn’t.” Gatorade CMO Sarah Robb O’Hagan: “Make no mistake, when we look at the competition for Gatorade, we think about water. That’s who our main competition is, and we need to keep reminding our athletes that … if you are serious about sport, you need to be consuming Gatorade” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 5/6).

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