GATORADE AIMS TO EXPAND WITH NEW POWDERED STIX: REGIONAL ROLLOUT COMES AS QUAKER BREAKS LATEST JORDANTV ADS

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Quaker Oats Co. is pushing Gatorade's "Life is a sport, drink it up" strategy to new limits with Gatorade Stix, an instant mix aimed at outdoor workers and other consumers.

Stix consists of four pouches of powdered Gatorade shrink-wrapped with its green sport bottle; all the consumer need supply is water, with each pouch making a quart of Gatorade.

FOR `ANYONE ON THE GO'

A step beyond the base brand that has such wide appeal with athletes, Stix is positioned for "anyone on the go, anywhere there is a water fountain," said Gatorade VP-Marketing Sue Wellington, particularly for people who work outdoors but also mountain bikers, beach volleyball players and softball players.

"Remember, our main competition is tap water," Ms. Wellington said.

The product was recently introduced in the Northwest and Southwest, including Arizona, Texas and New Mexico. Gatorade agency Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago, handles a limited program, including radio and couponing.

NATIONAL BY 1998

Ms. Wellington said the company chose a regional launch because of "the sheer number of things we are doing this year," but said Stix will be "a big part of '98. It will be national" then.

Although a niche brand-powdered Gatorade previously was sold only in 8-ounce containers and is said to account for less than $100 million of Gatorade's $1 billion-plus in U.S. sales-Stix is part of an overall move to increase occasions for the brand's consumption while fashioning Gatorade as drink of choice for any active individual. Another effort in this push is the new Gatorade Frost line, which will receive its first national ad push in April (AA, Jan. 20).

"We're a brand for the active thirst market, anytime anybody is hot and parched. Traditional uniform sports like basketball and football are a part of that, but we're also for sports like Rollerblading, walking and running that are more recreational," Ms. Wellington said.

TAPPING INTO AN ATTITUDE

Gatorade is aiming to increase that base with new products, promotions and advertising that "tap into an attitude, not a sport," she said. "In '97 you'll see more new stuff in test, and a string of things in the next three years."

The new-product push will hike Gatorade ad spending to well above the $40 million in measured media laid out by Quaker in the first three quarters of 1996.

The big national initiative this year is for Frost, a line extension in three varieties-Whitewater Splash, Glacier Freeze and Alpine Snow. Packaged in beveled bottles to appear icy, the brand is targeted as a cool-down beverage after exercise to rehydrate and refuel muscles with carbohydrate energy and electrolytes.

Frost ads will focus "less on the type of activity and more about the refreshing moment of the drink," Ms. Wellington said. And to that end, actual sports won't be shown, just people obviously hot and sweaty after an activity.

NEW JORDAN SPOT

Even in the wake of the new-product push, Gatorade isn't straying from its successful strategy for the flagship bottled drink.

During the National Basketball Association all-star game last weekend, Quaker broke a new 30-second spot showing Michael Jordan growing from boy to man as he scales the peaks of the mountain of life, only to say as he reaches the top that he has just started.

In a twist, the company created a companion Internet game (http://

www.gatorade.com) building on the ad, matching "CyberMike" against an evil clown who tries to knock him off the mountain. Players can "catch" Gatorade bottles to answer trivia questions related to Mr. Jordan and score points; to win, they must catch basketballs to reach the summit.

The game was created by Eagle River Interactive, Dallas, in conjunction with FCB.

Quaker's recently released sales figures for 1996 show the brand's volume was up 5% in the U.S. and Canada, though that growth was offset by Snapple losses. Overall, the U.S. and Canadian beverage division posted sales of $1.61 billion, up 1%, and powered by Gatorade.

Contributing: Kate Fitzgerald

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