Gatorade sports drinks have consistently the most popular drink of its kind for decades now. There are several competitors that make nearly identical products, however, Gatorade always finds itself at the top of the chart in sales and produce steady sales growth each year. This paper looks at the persuasive tactics Gatorade uses to market their products and why it is so effective. The paper analyzes the demographics Gatorade targets, the company’s strategies for persuading those demographics and discusses the reasons why those strategies are so successful in persuading and have kept Gatorade in a class above all its competitors.?

Gatorade What do the athletes Michael Jordan, Sidney Crosby, Derek Jeter, and Serena Williams all have in common? All of these award winning athletes are sponsored and help advertise for Gatorade, the most successful sports drink marketed worldwide (Chavis, 2010). Currently owned by PepsiCo, Gatorade was first invented in 1965 at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FLA. (Chavis, 2010). The purpose of Gatorade was to display this message: “By drinking this non-carbonated drink, you're not only relieving your thirst, but you're also replacing lost hydration from sweating.

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Gatorade also supplies your body with carbohydrates and electrolytes. ” (Emmerson, 2006). Gatorade has always been at the top of the sales market with other competing sports drinks, but in 2010 Gatorade’s United States sales volume grew 10% (“Gatorade Case Study,” 2011). The Basic Communication Model The Basic Communication Model is a process that analyzes the marketing message that is sent from the company to its consumers. The Basic Communication Model is broken down into five sections: sender, receiver, message, medium, and noise. The sender is simply Gatorade, because they are the company communicating the message to the consumer.

The receiver would be athletes nationwide. The target market is generally considered the receiver in the Basic Communication Model. The target market for Gatorade consists of all athletes, but more importantly has begun to focus on teenagers. Gatorade has assembled a handful of employees into a team called “Mission Staff. ” The purpose of this “Mission Staff” is to reach out to teenagers through social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook. By doing this, teenagers are allowed to provide direct input and responses to the Gatorade headquarters. (Bauerlein, 2010).

The message that is being received by the consumer is that Gatorade is essential for success in all athletic aspects. “With major long-term significance, nearly all the major sports leagues in the United States have named Gatorade the official sports drink. This includes the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL. ” (Chavis, 2010). By all of the United States sports leagues making Gatorade the beverage of choice, this has allowed younger athletes such as on the collegiate, high school, and even elementary school level to follow by example. The medium always presents the message in a clever and entertaining manner.

The medium is refers to how the message is sent out. Gatorade has many popular medium choices including athlete sponsorship, television, billboard, and online advertisements. Lastly, noise is defined as interference in the interpretation of the message. A possible example of noise interference would be if a consumer was watching a Gatorade commercial on television and the signal all of a sudden cut out. One prime example of Gatorades success in communicating to customers through the basic communication model is demonstrated through their athletic sponsors.

By using athletic figures, Gatorade has been able to reach out to their target market of teenagers for nearly two decades. Dating all the way back to 1991, Gatorade developed a marketing campaign entitled “Be Like Mike. ” The campaign came out with a lot of hesitation about going towards an individual athletic advertising program. But, Gatorade selected Michael Jordan and signed him to a ten year contract. Gatorade began releasing endorsements displaying Jordan’s abilities and highlights on the basketball court and displayed the slogan: “Be Like Mike, Drink Gatorade. (Rovell, 2006). Youths and teenagers began seeing these advertisements and were willing to do anything to emulate Michael Jordan. The Elaboration Likelihood Model helps to realize how kids are persuaded this way by means of peripheral processing. Kids are not cognitively making a decision to be persuaded, but are subconsciously accepting the message that Gatorade will make them a better athlete, like Michael Jordan. The persona of; “If you drink Gatorade, you will be like Michael Jordan on the basketball court” began to be planted into the minds of teenagers. (Rovell, 2006).

A song was even used in the commercials called “Be Like Mike” and served as a popular jingle to associate Jordan with the Gatorade brand. This served as another form of medium for Gatorade to promote their products. Feedback Gatorades success with using athletic figures and role models to promote food and beverage products has paved the way for many other companies. Other companies since Gatorade have hired athletic spokesman to endorse products including the likes of PowerAde, Gatorades main competitor. PowerAde was actually only developed by Coca-Cola Co. for the sole purpose to compete with PepsiCo’s Gatorade. (Smenyak, 2011).

By receiving great feedback from their communication plans, Gatorade has been able to grow and expand ideas. The Role of Integrated Marketing Communication Marketing Plan In order to keep up with competition, Gatorade has always implemented an up to date new marketing plan. In 2008, Gatorade released a new product line called “Gatorade Tiger” modeled after athlete, Tiger Woods. This marketing plan was joined with other products and was supposed to be the next line of successful marketing. However, the products were unsuccessful and were cancelled in 2009 to make room for the new innovative products that were released in 2010. Wilson, 2009).

In 2010, Gatorade revamped their entire line of sports performance products. Gatorade released a new line of products called the G Series. This line of products incorporated previous product attributes as well as new ideas. “Scientists from the Gatorade Sports Science Institute worked with some of the world's greatest athletes to create the G Series, a new line of sports performance products that provide the fluid, fuel, and nutrients athletes need before, during, and after a workout, practice or competition. ” (“Gatorade Unveils New G Series,” 2010).

The G Series became extremely successful for all levels of athletes. Integrated Marketing Communications: Integrated Marketing Communications stresses the importance of using all communication aspects to maintain customer relationships. The goal for Integrated Marketing Communications is to maximize the impact on consumers while minimizing the cost. With the development of the new line of products, the G Series, Gatorade has been able to develop new marketing strategies. An example of this would be Gatorade’s new video game advertisements.

By developing an advertisement campaign aimed at “video-gamers,” Gatorade has been able to reach their target market more directly. These in-game advertisements have been successful and have allowed Gatorade to list interactive entertainment as an advertising source. “By comparing the purchasing habits of around 100,000 households in the U. S. before and after being exposed to in-game ads for Gatorade, Nielsen was able to establish that the campaign boosted sales by an impressive 24%. ” (Leggatt, 2010). This is a huge increase in sales and has proved that in-game advertisements can be tremendously successful for Gatorade in the future.

By exploring more opportunities and taking bolder steps, such as creating in-game advertisements, Gatorade can continue to separate itself apart from competitors. The unique advertisements and promotions have been serving as a competitive advantage by creating a clear distinction of their brand name and products. Gatorade went on to continue this advertising campaign throughout 2010, and this campaign achieved a return on investment of $3. 11. (Leggatt, 2010). Information Processing Models Low Involvement Hierarchy Gatorades success is not only limited to the usage of athletic sponsorships, in-game advertisements, and name recognition.

One of their best strategies to reach their target market is through television advertisements. The model Gatorade uses to market their products is through the low involvement hierarchy model. The low involvement hierarchy model is a customer’s response to marketing, low- involvement products, through repeated contact with Gatorade advertisements. The model begins with message exposure under low involvement, then consumer shift in cognitive structure, consumer purchasing the product, and then the consumer developing an attitude from a positive or negative experience.

The model depicts that when a consumer has continuous exposure to a certain advertisement, that consumer is more likely to remember that product when making a purchase. An example of this for Gatorade would be in visual image personality. Visual image personality is used for low-involvement products in the form of symbols. Gatorade has been using a new “G” logo to market their products. This new logo is featured under the G Series campaign and has been coined under the “G Spots” slogan. (Jackson, 2009). Cognitive Response Approach

The Cognitive Response Approach is one of the most widely used methods for examining consumers’ processing of advertisements. Consumers’ cognitive responses to advertisements include their thoughts that occur to them while viewing, hearing, or reading a communication message. These thoughts are measured by the reaction the consumer has in the form of a verbal or hand written report. Under the cognitive response approach, cognitive responses are broken down into three execution thoughts: product/message, source-orientated, and ad execution thoughts.

Gatorade has implemented the second category of the Cognitive Response Approach, source-oriented thoughts, into their communication plan. Gatorade uses source bolsters in their advertisements to help effectively communicate with their target audience. Source bolsters are spokespeople used by a company in order to carry out the overall message. An example of Gatorade using source-orientated thought would be how Gatorade uses popular athletes in the media to display and discuss the Gatorade name brand. On the Gatorade website, over thirty athletes are shown representing Gatorade with sponsorships as spokespeople. “Gatorade,” 2011).


Gatorades unique strategy of using athletic sponsorships, in-game advertisements, television ads, and many more has served as a competitive advantage for them in the food and beverage industry for decades. The technique of targeting teenagers through advertisements allows for Gatorade to achieve a new line of customers while maintaining and keeping older loyal customers. With a demanding competitive advantage, Gatorade has been able to increase sales and brand awareness. The key to Gatorade’s success is to always keep advertising and communicating new ideas.