Gatorade has been, for decades, a centerpiece of the sports world. It’s seen on the sidelines of NFL games and splashed over the heads of winning coaches at the Super Bowl. It’s destroyed by bats in the dugouts of baseball games. It was, until very recently, synonymous with sports and working out.
At its apex in 1992, Gatorade debuted the “Be Like Mike” commercial that not only spawned massive sales for the brand, but also gave birth to an entire Air Jordan collection of the same name.
But most recently, the neon sports drink has been seeing a decline both in terms of sales and image. People have learned that - not surprisingly - it’s usually better to just drink water when seeking hydration instead of sugary sports drinks.
The brand is looking for a new identity, recently releasing Gatorade Organic to lukewarm reception. Meanwhile, the brand’s social media activity is all but dead.
Gatorade’s Facebook likes have even declined of late, an extreme rarity on that social network, as likes stick unless a user purposefully unlikes a page or user.
A look at Gatorade’s Facebook page shows a bizarre lack of activity, with the most recent posts from over a month ago. This is especially strange given Gatorade’s normal uptick in activity around the Super Bowl, when Vegas bookies even take bets on the color of the winning coach's victory dunk in the sugary liquid.
And speaking of the Super Bowl, Gatorade didn’t run a commercial this year (sister brands Doritos and Mountain Dew did, however). In fact, they haven’t run one since the 2016 Super Bowl.
On Twitter, the brand attempted to capitalize on the victory dunk, but a pinned tweet to that effect only garnered 33 likes - a microscopic social media presence for a brand of Gatorade’s size. A quip at Tide, who did have a relatively successful Super Bowl commercial, did slightly better with 339 likes.
So what’s up with Gatorade? Can the brand recover? And has the brand given up on Facebook until things look a bit better for them on the optics front?
Recent marketing strategy has been tough to parse for the brand. A partnership with NBA's minor-league involving its rebranding as "G League" saw a blip of consumer interest, but that has since cooled off. Efforts to launch a new, more health-conscious iteration called Gatorade G Organic (made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup) has so far failed to capture the sales parent company PepsiCo is clearly looking for out of this one-time halo beverage.
To celebrate better times for Gatorade, we present "Be Like Mike":