Powerade Preps March Madness Push

Coca-Cola Brand Will Have Sideline Presence, Launch New Campaign During NCAA Basketball Tournament

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Powerade is gearing up for the biggest marketing program in its history.

For the first time the brand will be front and center during March Madness, leveraging its designation as the "Official Sports Drink of the NCAA" with a robust marketing campaign dubbed "Game Science" and sideline presence throughout college basketball's marquee tournament. It's all part of broader deal Powerade inked last fall to have its products on the sidelines for all 88 NCAA championships.

Powerade will introduce a new tagline, 'Focus. Hustle. Hydrate. Believe.'
Powerade will introduce a new tagline, 'Focus. Hustle. Hydrate. Believe.'
It's major exposure for the Coca-Cola brand, which ranks No. 2 in the sports-drink category to Gatorade. Even though Powerade still lags Gatorade in overall market share, controlling only 27.5% of the category to Gatorade's 71.2%, the challenger brand is growing at a rapid clip. In 2010, Powerade volume was up 24%, and its share of the sports-drink category rose 2.9 points. Gatorade meanwhile, saw volume rise 6.5%, while its share fell 3.2 points, according to Beverage Digest.

Powerade has already significantly boosted its ad spending in the last year. In 2010, the brand spent $24 million on measured media, according to Kantar. That's up significantly from $10 million in 2009.

"The year is off to a great start for Powerade, as the brand continues to build on its momentum from 2010," said Yolanda White, VP-Powerade brand marketing. "And 'Game Science' is only the tip of the iceberg. We will have tremendous Powerade programming throughout 2011."

"Game Science" introduces a new tagline, "Focus. Hustle. Hydrate. Believe." The first ad from the campaign will feature Chris Paul, a point guard for the NBA's New Orleans Hornets, and will launch March 17 during the opening March Madness game. The campaign also includes the "Ion4 Point Ranking System," a reference to the four electrolytes found in Powerade. The ranking system allows fans to see how teams rank based on various basketball metrics, such as points scored and assist-to-turnover ratio. There will also be in-store marketing, a partnership with sportswear retailer DTLR, and sampling events and three-on-three tournaments at more than 20 college campuses.

Ammirati, New York, is Powerade's agency.

"The inspiration for 'Game Science' came from consumer insights about the mental and physical science athletes go through in every move and every decision they make on the court," said Ilan Sobel, general manager-Glaceau. "This theme also connects to the science behind Powerade's Ion4 formulation, which keeps athletes hydrated and on their game."

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