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Volume 23 No. 28
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Gatorade likes what it sees in lacrosse league

Deal with upstart Premier Lacrosse League boosts presence in growing sport

Gatorade has become the latest brand to enlist with the Premier Lacrosse League, signing on as the official sports drink of the first-year property.

The sides will announce the deal this week and the term is through the 2020 season. Neither side would disclose the financial terms, but PLL co-founder Paul Rabil told Sports Business Journal in April that the league was asking low seven figures annually for its larger partnerships.

Gatorade will supply its drinks to players in the PLL and those in its junior academy. The PepsiCo-owned brand will have an ad buy with NBC Sports, signage at events and will activate the partnership on social media. No fan-facing venue pouring rights are involved.

Jeff Kearney, Gatorade’s global head of sports marketing, said the company was interested in the deal because it sees lacrosse as a growing sport and the PLL as an innovative way to establish a larger presence in it. He said Gatorade views the PLL as a “forward-thinking brand with a forward-thinking approach to this league.”

“It’s tough to say no to Paul,” Kearney said of Rabil, who both runs the league and plays in it. He said Gatorade has been involved in lacrosse through deals in college and other pro lacrosse leagues.

While being announced this week, the deal had already started quietly in some regards in recent months. Gatorade first began supplying players with its drinks during training camp in May at the IMG Academy, which is a venue with Gatorade ties. The PLL season runs from June to September.

Gatorade is going to make all of its drinks available to players, and it likely won’t experiment with giving players any of its more innovative products to try during the season. But Kearney added that once the offseason comes, Gatorade will invite PLL players to try out some of its innovations — such as different bottle designs, its Bolt 24 drink or its protein drinks — to see if the players want those integrated into what Gatorade supplies for games.

Nathan Cheung, vice president of business development for the PLL, said the Gatorade pact is the latest example of the league’s growing partner portfolio, which also includes Capital One, Bumble, Adidas and Vineyard Vines.