Why Gatorade Held Big Play for Second Quarter -- And Print Is Key To New Push

Launch This Month Puts Campaign Closer to Busy Spring, Summer Seasons

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Gatorade was noticeably quiet this past January, after years of ringing in the New Year with big, ad campaigns.

Instead, Gatorade will launch creative this month, closer to its busy spring and summer seasons and in the midst of March Madness. The brand is also shifting how it approaches marketing for the G Series line and recommitting to athletic camps and locker room and sidelines programs.

The changes come amid new leadership -- Brett O'Brien replaced Sarah Robb O'Hagan last year as Gatorade's president. (A Gatorade spokeswoman said the marketing changes are unrelated to the exec moves.)

Two campaigns launch this month. "Lightning Bolt" focuses on the brand's history, while "Fixation" [below] features Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant. "Fixation," which breaks March 27, shows the two players training furiously after dreaming they were one-upped by the competition.

Morgan Flatley, VP-brand management at Gatorade, said delaying new creative until closer to the brand's peak season was a strategic decision. She also said there will be a new approach to marketing the 3-year-old G Series line.

In years past, Prime, Perform and Recover have all been prominently featured in TV advertising, the goal being to boost awareness for G Series. But in the coming year, Perform beverages will be the focus of TV ads, while Prime chews and pouches, as well as Recover beverages and shakes, will be hyped in print ads. Those products are newer -- and not the traditional sports drink for which the brand is famous -- and print lets Gatorade better explain the products and why athletes should be fueling before and after activities, not just during. "We are investing more in print than we have at least the last two years. It's really about using print to articulate the product benefits," Ms. Flatley said.

Ms. Flatley said the overall media weight and marketing spend will be in line with a year ago. Gatorade spent $101 million on measured media in 2012, according to Kantar Media.

The brand is also increasing its investment in grassroots and various locker room and sidelines programs, boosting its presence at summer camps and year-round competitions, in a bid to reach twice as many athletes in 2013 as it did last year.

"We can tell the story of Gatorade well in 30 seconds," Ms. Flatley added. "Prime and Recover, where they are in the life cycle, it's much better told in a locker room, on a field, by a trainer one-to-one."

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