Marketing 50

Propel Fitness Water

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Propel Fitness Water is one of those overnight success stories that was four years in the making. Now the leading enhanced water brand, Propel was close to being shelved after stumbling in its regional rollout. Had it not been for the persuasive case for patience by brand team leader Marie Devlin, Propel might have been permanently tabled before it ever went national.

The 42-year-old VP-marketing, Gatorade new brands, assumed responsibility for Propel in 2000 when it was still in regional testing and wasn't performing up to expectations.

The pivotal moment was in August 2001 when the team had to make a go, no-go decision to take the brand national. So she did what she knew best: talked up the data.

"We knew we had something that was great, scored well and did well in all consumer tests," says the PepsiCo executive. "One of the challenges was in translating that [in marketing]."

"There was a worry, to be quite frank, that what we were seeing in Asia in enhanced and near-waters, that that explosion was going to be here," says Cindy Alston, VP-equity development and communications for Gatorade.

With Ms. Devlin's backing, the team added more flavors to improve shelf space variety, retooled the labels to add more flavor cues, enhanced sampling efforts and boosted spending to support more breakthrough advertising. Adding the Gatorade name to the label was a "major strategic insight," Ms. Devlin says.

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