Olympics help Powerade ‘power through’ and increase market share

Powerade credits marketing around the 2010 World Cup with helping it cut six points out of Gatorade’s U.S. market share, and the company expects its first global campaign around the Olympics to deliver similar gains, said Jawad Bisbis, Coca-Cola’s director of sports brands.

“We’re trying to outsmart the competition by using our strengths — the World Cup and Olympics,” Bisbis said. “We’re seeing early signs the business is sustaining momentum. I’m very confident this will be a defining moment for the brand.”

Coca-Cola historically focused all of its Olympic marketing around its core, soft-drink brands like Coke and Sprite, but this year it added Powerade and Vitaminwater to the mix.

Powerade developed the “Power Through” campaign for the London Games. Elements of the campaign are being used in 35 of its 70 markets worldwide. In the U.S., it’s airing commercials that show athletes training as a narrator talks about how the drink can help them perform their best. It also has print, digital and outdoor ads, signs in stores and an app.

“The Olympics are not about the value of winning medals,” Bisbis said. “The values are about excellence in sport, being the best you can be and good sportsmanship. That’s what we want to be about. Empowering every athlete to be the best they can be.”

Bisbis said that the number of markets participating in the campaign validates Powerade’s move in 2010 to begin using Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the World Cup in its global marketing. In 2010, 30 of 70 markets advertised around the World Cup and saw business gains as a result.

Globally, Powerade’s market share improved to 30 percent. Its biggest gains were in soccer-crazy Latin America, where it moved from a 20 percent share to a 30 percent share of the market.

“It brought the system back to growth,” Bisbis said, adding that the sales success around the World Cup prompted five more markets to use the Olympics in their marketing efforts.

In London, Powerade developed a branded “Hydration Center” that offers tips about staying hydrated to Olympians staying in the Athletes Village. It also distributed 48,000 Powerade Sports bottles to athletes.

The brand set up a sports academy in West London where it brought in 75 amateur athletes from around the world to train with former Olympians like Mechelle Lewis Freeman. The athletes ranged in age from 23 to 67.

While Freeman led the athletes in wind sprints earlier this week, Bisbis spoke about his expectations for Powerade’s growth during the Olympics. He said the brand won’t assess the impact of the Olympics for several months, but he was encouraged by early signs.

“Year-to-date, the brand has done great,” Bisbis said. “We’re growing double digits. Brand share is up.”

He expects that to continue as the London Games come to a close this Sunday.

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