Gatorade’s G2 Channels Ali to Punch Up Its Messaging

Gatorade offshoot G2 is attempting to broaden its appeal by featuring a wider array of athletes in new ads, which aim to underscore the fact that the drink is also low-calorie.

A new campaign from TBWA\C\D features not only athletes who have appeared in G2 ads before, like New York Yankee Derek Jeter and tennis star Serena Williams, but also uses Olympic gymnast Chellsie Memmel and professional female soccer player Abby Wambach.

The PepsiCo pitch is built around former heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali’s signature quote, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Campaign executions, which broke Dec. 25, include TV, digital, print and gym location ads. Print and out-of-home will also use American soccer player Landon Donovan of the Los Angeles Galaxy.

“What’s important to know about the  campaign is it highlights not only the product benefits—low-calorie, hydration through sports performance—but it also depicts the intensity and needs of a broader range of athletes,” said a Gatorade rep. The line also plays, just in time for New Year’s resolutions, on the drink’s low-calorie count. Hence the new endline: “1/2 the Calories. All the G.”

“Our challenge was to convey the G2 low-calorie message without compromising authenticity or the hydration benefits of traditional Gatorade,” Jimmy Smith, group creative director, TBWA\C\D, said in a statement.   

G2 has been a bright spot in an otherwise tough year for Gatorade (see sidebar). In the first nine months, G2’s market share increased 3 percent, and volume rose nearly 25 percent, according to Beverage Digest. In contrast, Gatorade’s flagship beverage business lost almost 5 percent share and volume declined 17 percent in the first nine months.

“The development of G2 was driven by the fact that the sports drink category had really changed because of products like Vitaminwater and Smartwater that were equivalent or better than Gatorade,” said Gerry Khermouch, editor, Beverage Business Insights. “Increasingly, consumers have migrated away from drinks with a high degree of sugar or high amount of sodium. PepsiCo needed a lighter formulation.”

As G2 reached out to those people, Khermouch notes that in the past couple of years Coca-Cola’s Vitaminwater, which had previously positioned itself as a hip drink skewing toward women, switched to using athletes in its advertising.

Spending for the new campaign was not disclosed. Through October, Gatorade has spent $20 million in support of G2 while in 2008 the company invested $46 million, per The Nielsen Co. (Those figures do not include online spending.)

G2’s success hints at the tough spot in which Gatorade, the 42-year-old category pioneer, finds itself in a changing universe of competitors ranging from waters and enhanced, lighter drinks like Smartwater on one end to protein-based beverages on the other extreme.

By midyear, Beverage Digest estimated that Gatorade’s sales volume slumped 18 percent, and in July, PepsiCo CEO Indra Noovi promised investors the company would return the Gatorade brand back to its core athlete base.  

In that regard, PepsiCo’s Americas Beverages CEO Massimo d’Amore has made product development a top priority for Gatorade, which was relaunched as G in 2009. The first of those new products this year are a G series of beverages designed for use before, during and after workout and sports competition. The new brands include Gatorade Prime 01, Gatorade Perform 02-—which will include Gatorade Thirst quencher and G2-—and Gatorade Recover 03. As part of that rollout, G2 will get a redesign, its second in just over a year, with a bottle makeover that will more prominently feature its low-cal formulation.n

‘G’ What a Mess Over At PepsiCo

It’s the classic marketer’s conundrum: sorting out whether outside factors like the economy or the category are to blame or whether it’s the marketing.