On my way to work every day I pass through the W4th St. subway station in New York, where I walk by an installation of Gatorade advertisements. These images depict real athletes as they live some athletic moment of truth. This campaign accompanies Gatorade’s evolved design – a blocky “G” with a lightning bolt superimposed, and block CAPS on labels that scream messages that could have been written by my high-school gym teacher:
They’re DARING you to drink it. You can’t measure up! Why are you even trying?
This bit of brand aggression suggests that Gatorade is seriousness and performance and results in a bottle, and by drinking it you’ll be about performance and results too.
But Gatorade has become just as aspirational as its target customer – both striving hard for health and performance that the product won’t deliver. The drinks pack 50 to 310 calories per serving, and are carbohydrate, sugar, and sodium rich. It’s angling to be tastier than water, healthier than a soft drink, using health, performance and testosterone as a wrapper.
It shows how design, communications, and even product development can become disconnected from the needs of the business and consumer:
Companies need to find, capture, and grow sources of revenue.
Consumers need something that appeals to taste and is healthy. They’re smarter about what they eat, interested in wellness, are better informed, and will ultimately see through claims that aren’t genuine.
The world at large needs better and easier ways to achieve a healthier reality.
There must be a sweet spot between what the world requires, and what Pepsi has to achieve as a business, that doesn’t require re-skinning Gatorade as something it’s not. To do it, business and brand have to lead what’s innovated, designed, and ultimately communicated.
Imagine the customer loyalty and affinity that could come, and the impact on sport, wellness, and overall public health were someone to innovate for the results that advertising in the health drink category promises…