NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Gatorade's push to capture a broader swath of consumers will begin in earnest on Sunday with the launch of an online sports and entertainment network. The site, missiong.com, will be touted in the closing seconds of each of the brand's 30-second Super Bowl spots.
"Everything we're doing with Gatorade is different from what we've done before," said Dave Burwick, chief marketing officer of PepsiCo North America Beverages. "The fundamental difference is that we're going from a brand that speaks to really elite athletes to a brand that speaks for the athlete in everyone."
Social networking, gaming and several original reality series will be part of the site. One series, "Replay," seems perfectly crafted to capture former Gatorade consumers who have moved away from the brand since their high-school and college sports days. The first installment re-creates a 1993 game between high-school rivals near Allentown, Pa., that ended in a tie, so Gatorade is giving the players an opportunity for a rematch. The early 30-somethings will be trained at the Gatorade Sport Science Institute for the rematch, set for mid-April.
Search for 'pure, raw talent'
A second series, "Quest for G," is in the mold of "American Idol." A search for eight athletes with "pure, raw talent" but not the option of elite training will culminate in an intensive boot camp. "The athletes will receive every opportunity to help them compete for the gold and reach the pinnacle of their sport," according to a statement.
Three other series are built around dance and rap, as the brand seeks to reach beyond its core athletic consumers. "Leave It on the Floor" focuses on dance culture, while "Freestyle Sessions" is a break-dancing competition.
"Blokhedz" is based on a popular graphic novel that follows a 17-year-old superhero/rapper who can make his rhymes reality.
"That's the big idea here: to broaden the appeal of this brand," Mr. Burwick said. "We're transforming everything from the shelf to the sideline to on-air, digital and print."
G2, Gatorade's lower-calorie spinoff, will also get a marketing makeover, as it seeks to solidify its appeal with casual athletes. The brand launched with a Super Bowl presence last year that featured Derek Jeter and Peyton Manning enjoying G2 off the field. G2 had a strong initial showing, grabbing an 8.3% share in the sports-drink category in the first half of 2008, according to Beverage Digest.
Room for improvement
Still, executives said there is room for improvement. "It's not been quite as successful as we thought it could have been," Mr. Burwick said.
A print campaign, set to break in mid-February, will feature elite athletes alongside everyday people of the same name. Professional basketball player Kevin Garnett will be on half of a spread, with another Kevin on the opposite page, for example. A third page will include product information.
Ad copy accompanying Mr. Garnett will read, in part, "I've never been afraid to tell my wife we might not make the mortgage. I've never used the backstroke as a coping mechanism. ... But I've tried as hard as I can to be the best that I can." Ad copy accompanying the other Kevin will read, in part, "I've never had to raise my little sister while trying to raise my game. I've never helped add another banner to the Boston Garden. But I've tried as hard as I can to be the best that I can."
A new formulation of the Gatorade Tiger extension is also on tap and expected to launch in April. "We're going to continue to have a stream of news and excitement, whether it be the brand-communication piece or innovation, package changes, etc., throughout the year," Mr. Burwick said.