Gatorade Introduces G Series Fit; but Can Consumers Keep All Its Products Straight?

Three-Item Line Geared Toward 'Fitness' Athletes Will Get Dedicated Ad Blitz

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If you're a gym rat, get ready to consume a lot of Gatorade.

At least that 's the pitch for the brand's G Series Fit, which is getting a dedicated ad blitz, including new media buys, in the latest sprint toward broadening the brand's scope beyond sports drinks into sports nutrition and innovation.

G Series Fit, a three-item line of products meant to be consumed before, during and after workouts, is meant to appeal to a "fitness" athlete, meaning people who exercise regularly, rounding out the brand's offerings targeting competitive athletes (think high-school basketball) and professional athletes (such as NFL players).

The new series builds on Gatorade's strategy to focus on its core athletic consumers rather than the lifestyle drinkers that had gravitated toward it in years past. And indications are the brand is making some headway. In 2010, volume rose 6.5%, a marked improvement from the 13% decline in 2009. Its share of the sports drink category fell three points to about 71% of the category, however, according to Beverage Digest.

One target for the G Series Fit line is consumers who used to drink Gatorade when they were competitive athletes but abandoned the brand as they stopped competing. Though they may no longer be competing, the demographic is someone who still takes fitness seriously, working out several times a week, said Andrea Fairchild, VP-brand marketing at Gatorade. "Their body is the ultimate scoreboard," she said.

Morgan Flatley, senior director-consumer engagement at Gatorade, said "fitness influencers," such as group exercise instructors and personal trainers, helped to develop the products and the marketing program. One "influencer" was even on set during the filming of TV spots to ensure that the fitness routines filmed were "authentic and compelling."

Gatorade has also tapped athletes including Olympians Allyson Felix and Ryan Lochte; Tim Howard, a professional soccer player; Coco Ho, a professional surfer; and dancers Lauren Froderman and Stephen Boss. In ads, the athletes will be shown during their fitness routines, rather the competing.

"Our history is rooted in working with the best athletes in the world," said Ms. Flatley. "These athletes all have aspirational fitness routines and all understand the role of nutrition in fueling their training."

G Series Fit products get their first exposure in the spot, "Inside Edge," which also features the original G Series products. Dedicated advertising for the new products will begin in the coming weeks and include TV, print and digital buys. Media buys include new outlets for the brand, such as E! and G Series, introduced last year, will also have dedicated ads. Omnicom's TBWA/Chiat/Day is the creative agency, while WPP's VML handles digital.

"We're definitely approaching media differently for the fitness athlete," said Ms. Flatley. "They consume some different media, and they're looking for different information."

Ms. Flatley declined to comment on the budget for the campaign, saying only that the G Series Fit launch is a "huge priority." Gatorade spent $113 million on measured media last year, according to Kantar.

G Series Fit, like G Series and G Series Pro, includes 01 Prime, 02 Perform and 03 Recover products. The G Fit 01 product is a 180 calorie "energy bite," while the 02 product is a 10 calorie per 8 oz. beverage billed as an "electrolyte replacement drink." ( G2, also a low-calorie beverage, has double the calories and bolder flavors.) The 03 product is a 110-calorie "protein restorative smoothie." Gatorade's overall suite of products now includes drinks, shakes, smoothies, bars, bites and powders (see chart below).

Executives say that the series approach makes sense for athletes, and that Gatorade is not targeting casual exercisers who likely wouldn't be interested in a series of products.

"It's meant to help the fitness athlete get the most out of their workout and bodies," said Ms. Fairchild, of the three-product strategy. "That was a consumer need that we weren't meeting as it relates specifically to that athlete."

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