Sportsmarketingguy's Blog

Is it just noise or does it connect and move the needle

When “G” Doesn’t Hit The G-Spot

Posted by sportsmarketingguy on January 23, 2009

So if you have watched any of the college bowl games or NFL playoff’s over the last few weeks, you have certainly seen the new Gatorade ad and its new branding for one of the most iconic brands in sport. This campaign broke a few weeks ago, but what better time to discuss a brand that couldn’t be more aligned with the Super Bowl than leading into Super Bowl Week?
“What’s G? It’s the emblem of a warrior…” as some of the most recognizable faces in sports in black and white cross the screen: Serena Williams, Bill Russell, Dwayne Wade, Derek Jeter and the GOAT – Muhammad Ali with voice over by Lil’ Wayne and produced by Spike Lee. It is an AWESOME spot and Spike Lee continues to amaze – that is until it gets to the end when the letter G resembling something you might have seen on Sesame Street appears on the screen.

Initial reaction by the public and people that have been around the block in the advertising biz and that have launched major brands has been “What is it?” Then we and they find out what it is and you can hear the gasps.

The ad and the letter “G” is causing quite a stir in the sports and brand world. Because it’s Gatorade’s new brand id

The New Gatorade

The New Gatorade


For this sports marketing guy it’s blasphemous. I remember watching the 86′ Giants dumping the Orange Gatorade bucket over the head of a younger and unsuspecting Bill Parcells in Super Bowl XXI starting a tradition in sport that has become a part of winning a big game – the ultimate tribute when your brand transcends everything and becomes a part of the game.

The new branding has upset the widow of Gatorade’s inventor Dr. Robert Cade who at 79 years of age can still recognize when a rebrand is a bad idea. But Gatorade Co. said it is “redesigning everything from the sidelines to the shelf to appeal to a broader range of athletes and active people,” while using “bold new packaging.”


Even worse, Gatorade says the old packaging will ultimately be phased out…If “bold new packaging” means shocking the heart and soul of what your brand is – potentially putting it on life support, then they have it down.

Whether the new redesign helps Gatorade battle Vitamin Water and other low calorie sports drink alternatives to win back market share is the unanswered question. But it’s going to need more than a redesign to do that – sugar content anyone? Why not position G2 which was brilliantly launched as a low calorie alternative at last year’s Super Bowl as the competitor to Vitamin Water and SOBE Lifewater?

To me, we’ve seen this before – around the time sports fans were introduced to the Gatorade dump and the big orange bucket following the 86′ Super Bowl – it was Coca-Cola playing with its formula and creating “New Coke” – we all know how that turned out…


5 Responses to “When “G” Doesn’t Hit The G-Spot”

  1. bheff said

    I find the idea of a teaser campaign appealing, creating some mystery in an otherwise brand-saturated world. It gets the consumer and the media to debate the product a hell of a lot more than a traditional campaign might. But I don’t think the ads are very good. They felt more like they were produced by the NCAA than Spike Lee.

    Plus, I think Gatorade is starting to take itself a little to seriously. It’s like a celebrity dropping their last name.

  2. Josh said

    I do like the teaser campaign, and I did find myself fascinated with the tv ads, but I don’t know how successful they will be with it. For myself, it is the classic appearance of Gatorade. I believe the change from classic to new age will be too much for Gatorade’s loyal followers. To see where Gatorade come from, back in Gatorville to what it is now, seeing Gatorade all over cafeterias and shoprights…did they really need to do this?

  3. Packy said

    Josh – I think you are on to EXACTLY why Gatorade needed to do this… Gatorade has been in team sports space for too long and realizes that the sport market and the market in general is more personality and individually driven…look at the competition in the coolers in the cafeterias and the c-stores…diversification in the market demands a rebrand in order to keep a product in front of mind of the consumer. Is it in you? It is in a lot more famous athletes than it used to be…plus a lot more sports than it used to be…this is similar to McDonalds who are more than Larry, Michael and Mia with their “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign.

    Big wide market = big wide campaign

  4. Packy –

    Thanks for the comments, it’s actually Jason.

    Interesting thoughts and I agree to differ with you in our opinion. This is not just a campaign – they are talking about a whole new brand id for Gatorade, doing away with everything – taking the name off the product and sidelines for the “G.” I like the spots and think they are great – they could stand alone for Gatorade and still resonate.

    Gatorade IS sports whether it’s team or an individual, on the sidelines and for the guy that just ran into the store after a pick-up game of basketball.

    This is about a new positioning for what? To sustain market share, but they are not losing market share to the Powerades of the world – it’s the Vitamin Water’s and SOBE Lifewater’s they are competing against too an extent and it’s why G2 was the perfect platform to compete with those brands – a low calorie drink to the traditional Gatorade brand we have all come to know and love. At the end of the day anything in the coolers is competition, whether that be sports energy drink, Red Bull, Coke Zero or Vitamin Water.

    It is not just in famous athletes it’s in the everyday athlete and the weekend warriors – hence “Is it in you?”.

    You are right about the McDonald’s campaign “I’m Lovin’ It” is designed to appeal to everyone but you are wrong on the similarities to the the new “G” branding – the spots feature the most gifted athletes in the world – not the common athlete and even if it did feature some of those athlete’s it still wouldn’t make sense to change the Gatorade brand.

  5. I actually loved the ads when I first saw them. The style and vibe of them all I thought flowed really nicely. But, I’ll admit that when I found out it was a Gatorade a I wasn’t sure how to react to it. Such a HUGE shift from what I’m use to when it comes from them.

    Impossible to say this is a horrible idea at this point because non of us know where it goes from here. I do think that too many brands are trying to radically change their image and when it isn’t broken why change it?

    Only time will tell.

    Congrats on the launchof the blog.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: