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No. 2 Sports Drink Powerade Taps Into Its 'Underdog' Status

'Power Through' Is Message of New Campaign and Tagline

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In a nod to its own second-place position in the sports-drink category, Powerade is unveiling a new tagline and campaign that highlights underdogs and hard work.

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The campaign, which will kick off with the TV spot shown above on Saturday , will carry the tagline "Power Through," an extension of the "Game Science" campaign the brand launched last year during March Madness. Powerade will leverage its designation as the "official sports drink of the NCAA," with print and digital iterations of the work coming out later in the year.

Coca-Cola-owned Powerade saw marketshare rising 1.3 percentage points to a 28.5% share in the category for the first nine months of 2011, while competitor PepsiCo's Gatorade fell one point to a 70% share, according to Beverage Digest.

"While the campaign was birthed out of brand and consumer insights, Powerade is also an underdog," said Yolanda White, group director of marketing. "We've never stopped believing and we've been hurdling through challenges."

Ms. White said the campaign's insight came from a brand positioning exercise that involved ethnographic studies, spending a time on baseball fields and basketball courts. She said it became clear the way Powerade thinks about itself is very much the way the brand's core demographic, young athletes, think about themselves.

That demographic, said Ms. White, is full of ambition, desire and aspiration. They subscribe to the idea that you have to go all in to achieve success and they believe in success through hard work. "The strongest representative for this is to showcase the underdog," she said.

The commercial, created out of Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., shows a coach giving a pep talk to his team after the game. He tells them: "They didn't see us coming, they thought this was going to be a cakewalk." He adds that the underdogs turned the favorites' fortunes around, turning a dance party into a going-home party. The entire spiel is laced with images of the game and the team, with occasional shouts of "Power Through!"

Mark Fitzloff, exec creative director at Wieden, said the intention was to celebrate Powerade's role as a "challenger" to Gatorade. "Identifying with David in the Goliath story can be pretty inspiring to anybody," added Mr. Fitzloff.

The digital work is still being wrapped up, said Scott Hargrove, group director of integrated marketing creative, who is in charge of creative excellence at Powerade. It will continue to "dimensionalize the notion of the underdog," while new work rolling out over the year will also "lean more into the emotional space of the underdog," he said.

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