BrandDunk

Branding the World of Sports

Powerade uses ESPN to attack Gatorade

Posted by ZA on March 23, 2009

The detente in the sports drink war between Coca-Cola and Pepsi is officially over, and Coca-Cola’s Powerade is coming out swinging. Powerade has launched their first major marketing campaign since 2001 and the current campaign paints a target squarely on the back of chief rival, Gatorade.
powerade_logo

The new Powerade campaign mocks Gatorade as being an “incomplete” sports drink because it lacks a couple of the electrolytes that Powerade has in their new formula.  The campaign will become the first advertiser to take over the cover of ESPN The Magazine, which it will do with a cover flap that says “You wouldn’t want an incomplete cover.  Don’t settle for an incomplete sports drink” next to a Gatorade bottle.  The inside flap of ESPN will show a Powerade bottle with the tagline, the “complete sports drink”.

This campaign is a bold move for Powerade, taking a ‘challenger strategy’ by clearly singling out their competition.  But it a strategy that parent companies Coca-Cola and Pepsi have engaged in before across other beverage categories.  In this case Powerade has very little to lose by comparing themselves directly because has over 75% market share in the sports drink category (compared to 22% for Powerade).

And there may never be a better time for Powerade to attack because Gatorade is in the midst of a rebranding project.  Making their move while Gatorade transitions their brand might allow Powerade to capitalize on some consumer confusion; getting people who suddenly don’t associate with the Gatorade brand to reach for a Powerade instead.  Sun Tzu said in “The Art of War” that “all warfare is based on deception.”  Powerade seems to be taking a cue from him in this war for sports drink supremacy.

Tale of the Tape: How does Gatorade versus Powerade stack up?
Parent company: Gatorade is PepsiCo.  Powerade is Coca-Cola Company.
Founded: Gatorade in 1965.  Powerade in 1988.
Marketshare: Gatorade has ~ 77%.  Powerade has ~ 22%.
Calories (main product): Gatorade has 158.  Powerade has 195.
Official sports drink: Gatorade has MLB, NFL & NHL.  Powerade has Nascar, NCAA, PGA & US Olympic Team.
Top endorsers: Gatorade is endorsed by Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning & Tiger Woods.  Powerade is endorsed by LeBron James, Ryan Howard and Venus Williams. (View complete list of endorsers.)

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