Gatorade - G Series Launch

Packaged Goods--Beverage (SILVER)
Best Launch (BRONZE)

Client Credits: PepsiCo Beverages Canada
Greg Lyons, VP Marketing
Shirley Mukerjea, Director of Marketing - Hydration Brands
John McEachern, Marketing Manager
Eric Williams, Associate Marketing Manager

Agency Credits: TBWA\Toronto
Jack Neary, Chief Creative Officer
Mark Mason, Creative Director
Jonathan Smith, Associate Creative Director
Rodger Eyre, Associate Creative Director
Sharon Kosokowsky, Broadcast Producer
Nadya Macneil, Head of Broadcast
Patrick LeMoine, Group Account Director
Jordan Cappadocia, Account Executive
Trevor Thwaites, Account Executive
Daniele Boem, Group Director of Strategy, OMD
Jammie Ogle, Associate Director of Strategy, OMD
Laura Bryce, Senior Consultant, High Road Communications
Andy Harkness, VP Sports Marketing, SDI

Crossover Notes:
All winning cases contain lessons that cross over from one case to another. David Rutherford has been identifying these as Crossover Notes since CASSIES 1997. The full set for CASSIES 2013 can be downloaded from the Case Library section at

Crossover Note 1. What a Brand Stands For.
Crossover Note 3. Core Equity versus Price & Promotion.
Crossover Note 12. Changing the Goalposts.

To see creative, click on the links that are embedded in the case.


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):April 1, 2011 - June 1, 2012
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: April 4, 2011
Base Period as a Benchmark: N/A

a) Overall Assessment

In 1965 Gatorade created the sports drink category. After 40 years of flavour & pack innovation, and increasingly fierce price-based competition, Gatorade had to evolve. But remaining a brand player and category leader would require true innovation. Based on years of athlete knowledge and scientific research, the G Series® was launched – consisting of products intended for before (Gatorade Prime®), during (the Original Gatorade Perform®), and after (Gatorade Recover®) athletic activity. 

The category that the Gatorade portfolio had once relied upon entirely had been expanded.  The brand was no longer just a sports drink – it was embarking on a plan to reframe itself as a leader in sports nutrition, a $4.6 billion market globally. [Crossover Note 12]  This vision was bold but ownable. After all, Gatorade knew the needs of athletic bodies better than anyone.

As the new G Series prepared to launch in Canada, the Gatorade business team was faced with a stark commercial reality: How to drive a new path to growth while the brand’s most serious competitor, Powerade, was aggressively cutting prices. [Crossover Note 3]

This case describes the launch of the G Series (from April 2011 to June 2012) and demonstrates how advertising can help a belief brand build a new ritual among consumers. 

b) Resulting Business Objectives

The business objectives were three fold: grow revenue by 7%; increase profitability by 3%; grow dollars spend per buyer. In order to realize this, the following marketing objectives were established for the first year in market: 

  1. Announce and generate active awareness of the G Series® system.
  2. Encourage trial of  Gatorade Prime® and Gatorade Recover®.
  3. Provide athletes with nutritional and performance reasons for using all three products (exceed norms for ad persuasion metrics).
  4. Establish the G Series® as a legitimate player in the Canadian sports nutrition market.  

c) Annual Media Budget
$1 - $2 million

d) Geographic Area

a) Analysis and Insight

Competitive athletes commit to being the best at what they do and possess the intrinsic motivation necessary to push harder every day.  Every rep in the gym, stride on the ice, or sprint on the field is in an effort to better themselves and gain an inch on the competition.

Gatorade had long been the hydration solution for these athletes during intense activity but was never thought of outside this occasion. It was time to change that. [Crossover Note 1] Throughout youth sport competitive athletes learn the importance of areas that extend beyond the game.  First comes practice and then comes training.  By the time these athletes are in their early teenage years they feel they are operating at 100% of their potential. But most of the time that is simply not the case.  To reach your true athletic potential you need to combine proper training with proper nutrition. The saying, “You get out what you put in” had to be given a new meaning.

The athlete we were speaking to put very little emphasis on nutrition and lacked understanding of the different needs the body has before, during and after exercise. As such, effective communication of the occasions (before/during/after) and the three-part product message was essential.  The core of the insight was to position sports nutrition, and specifically the G Series®, as a legitimate means to improve performance.  

b) Communication Strategy

There are two targets; the core athlete and their shopper parents. This is tricky to get right and one of the reasons Georges St-Pierre and Sidney Crosby were selected as brand spokesmen. Their ability to speak to both the athlete and the shopper was key to achieving universal understanding of this new product line.

The challenge with a dominant spokesman like GSP or Crosby is how to deliver product information. Great athletes don’t always make great pitchmen and asking them to speak like a salesman undermines their athletic endorsement. However, if you don’t focus on the product, the athlete’s celebrity can overwhelm any information you’re trying to communicate. Therefore, the product had to be shown in a way that is truly authentic to the athlete’s routine. The following phased approach was taken to the launch:

  1. Seeding (Pre-Launch) – connect with the athlete’s support group (i.e. Coaches, Trainers, Athletic Therapists) to start the nutrition conversation
  2. Launch Part 1 – Introduce the G Series® and establish before, during and after as three distinct athletic occasions
  3. Visibility – activate around cultural sports events relating to our athletes
  4. Launch Part 2 – communicate why the occasions are unique to the body and how the G Series® benefits athletes  

a) Media Used

  1. Television
  2. Online Pre-Roll
  3. Unique Online Content (videos/Facebook applications)
  4. Online Banners
  5. Grassroots Activations 

b) Creative Discussion

The creative idea involved a visual reinforcement of the three-part G Series® as an integral part of the two stars’ training and playing routines, using them to demonstrate – rather than describe - the product benefits. For the first time ever, Canadians would get a glimpse into the effort level and commitment of Canada’s top athletes.

Seeding (2010)  

In August 2010, we announced the G Series to Canada’s top athletes and their influencer groups.  Specifically, Georges St-Pierre (UFC), athletic trainers and nutritionists joined us in sharing this new vision with Canada.  Although product would not hit the shelves until April the transformation into a sports nutrition innovator was well underway.  

                  G Series® Symposium – August 12, 2010

Refer to "Gatorade G Series Launch_Cassies" attachment for image.  

The event in Toronto included a CATA (Canadian Athletic Therapists Association) certification course which gave many self employed therapists the opportunity to earn a credit towards their accreditation put on by the GSSI (Gatorade Sports and Science Institute). The audience was able to interact with a panel discussion regarding appropriate nutrition habits for athletes before, during and after training or competition.  For those looking to see the effects of proper nutrition first-hand we tested some of Canada’s top athletes in our performance lab. 

Launch Part 1 (April, 2011)

Recognizing that athletes don’t think far beyond the moment, we decided to speak about the G Series® in a way that had the potential to be part of their routine before, during and after.  It was our job to make it apparent that these were three very distinct moments in time for an athlete.  


 Refer also to "Gatorade G Series Launch_Cassies" attachment.  

A 30 second television spot was launched featuring GSP going through his standard routine at his famous TriStar Gym in Montreal.  The speed of the visuals and the track were finished in a way that displayed the intensity of GSP’s training and nutrition.  

Visibility (2011/2012)

As a truly essential piece of our athlete’s equipment, we have always approached “sponsorship” of the world's greatest athletes like a partnership.  G Series® is not just a logo our athletes wear, but rather a part of what fuels them. 

Refer to file GSP_InvertedPushUp_30.

Refer also to "Gatorade G Series Launch_Cassies" attachment.  

On January 2nd, 2011 it was announced that GSP would be fighting in the UFC 129 event, the first ever UFC event to be held in Toronto.  Leading up to the fight original online GSP content was created which linked directly to the G Series®.  The video showcased GSP’s unparalleled athleticism when what seemed like a standard pull up turned out to be an inverted push up; a move that very few MMA fighters could pull off.    

 FACE GSP Facebook App

Refer to "Gatorade G Series Launch_Cassies" attachment.  

From online wallpapers to network produced content, GSP and the G Series® were the face of the SportsNet network leading up to the UFC 129 fight.  A Facebook app was also created on the Gatorade Canada page, which allowed fans to upload a picture and virtually place themselves in a headlock with GSP.  From there they would be given the opportunity to share or export their image to be used as their display picture. 

Welcome Back Sidney Twitter Banner

Refer to "Gatorade G Series Launch_Cassies" attachment.  

On New Year’s Day 2011, Sidney Crosby’s season took a turn for the worst. Following a record 25 game point streak, the NHL’s leading scorer was blindsided with a massive hit. After almost a full calendar year without playing we knew that something had to be done to welcome him back to the game as Canadians watched from around the world. 

Instead of running a print ad or static banner to welcome Sidney back we decided to give control to the millions of fans and have each welcome him back in their own way.  On November 21st, the date of Sidney’s return, we launched a live Twitter banner on Canada’s top two hockey sites ( &, which allowed fans to send their own personal welcome back message to Sidney and view it in real time. In the end, Sidney thanked his fans in the only way he knew how; with two goals and two assists. 

Launch Part 2 (January, 2012)

Although establishing before, during and after as unique athletic occasions among millennials was a step in the right direction, there was still a knowledge gap that existed.  We needed to explain why these occasions were unique and why the G Series® was effective. 

Refer to file Sidney_SplitScreen_30

Refer also to "Gatorade G Series Launch_Cassies" attachment.  

During the NHL All-Star game in January, 2012 a :30 second television spot was launched in conventional and sports specialty media featuring Sidney Crosby. Visually, a split screen was used to show all of the nutrition and training (top half) that went into scoring one game-winning goal (bottom half). The message was simple; athletic improvement is a combination of proper training, proper nutrition and of course, effort. For the first time ever athlete’s would be able to see what goes into making Sidney so dominant on the ice. 

Refer to file Sidney_Why_30

Refer also to "Gatorade G Series Launch_Cassies" attachment.  

In April, 2012 a final :30 television spot was launched depicting Sidney Crosby going through one day of training.  Viewers saw all of the grueling moments that go on behind the scenes for an NHL all-star.  The G Series messaging all related back to the concept of ‘strong’ and the product benefits; energy, hydration and protein.  Not only were the occasions unique but they also contained a new form of significance.  

c) Media Discussion

As a sports brand trying to reach athletes and their support system (including parents) our strategy needed to rely heavily on television media.  Using a building blocks approach we were able to maximize reach, frequency and most importantly, relevance of our messaging.  To activate against this strategy we sought out the following:

  • Sports programming – delivering base level awareness and maximizing relevance among athletes
  • A18-34 relevant programming – extending reach and frequency
  • High profile programming – capitalizing on large audiences

Across the 2011-2012 time period the campaign had a total budget of $4.42 million -- Phase 1 of the campaign ran from the beginning of April until July 2011 and Phase 2 activating between January and June 2012.  In total there were 2,165 GRPs of television behind the G Series® launch. 

Although broadcast media accounted for the vast majority of the paid media spend, digital campaigns and grassroots initiatives ran throughout the year to bring life and authenticity to what was being shown on television. Television was the ideal medium to efficiently reach both parts of our audience in large numbers and in relevant sporting contexts. This would be our emotional stimulus, which would then drive consumers online to gain information on the science behind the G Series® and how it enhances performance. Online was the perfect venue to educate as media habits indicated that this was the area where millennials spent most of their time.  

a) Sales/Share Results

The launch has been a success against all business objectives.

As of June 2012 (YTD):

  • Total profit dollar sales increased +20.5%, exceeding objectives
  • Revenue increased by 13.3%, exceeding objectives
  • Gatorade dollar sales per buyer increased by 9.5% during a period when Powerade reduced its average shelf price by 12.7% 

Overall dollar volume sales of the G Series® has been increasing/steady since launch amidst severe price based competition.  

See the attached PDF "Gatorade G Series Launch" for a chart.  

  • Average dollar volume percent change for Original Gatorade Perform® over the business results period was +5.18%
  • G Series® has not cannibalized the base business

The G Series® system has developed a strong presence in the sports nutrition category while being adopted into the routine of more and more athletes around the country.

  • Sales of Gatorade Prime® and Gatorade Recover® variants have grown to a $6 million business
  • G Series® is now the number 7 player in sports nutrition (4.7 share), equivalent to 20% of Powerade’s business in convenience and gas
  • Gatorade Prime® and Gatorade Recover® SKU’s account for 4 out of the top 7 fastest turning products in sports nutrition 

b) Consumption/ Usage Results

c) Other Pertinent Results

d) Return on Investment

a) General Discussion

Dollar volume data concludes that over 66.2% of sales were driven during periods media was in cycle (62.5% of BRP), including only paid media.  

See the attached PDF "Gatorade G Series Launch" for a table.  

Athletes are showing a greater awareness and understanding of the G Series® system:

  • At campaign launch aided ad recall for GSP “Before/During/After” :30  (Source: iTrac 2011 Q3-Q4 Hydration Felx) achieved 30%
  • Post advertising evaluation (Source: Millward Brown 2012 Q1 Brand Health Study) reported that 90% of the sample believed the Sidney Crosby “Why” :30 presented persuasive new information about Gatorade Prime®, Perform and Recover - 40 points above industry norm (top percentile)
  • Among millenials (Source: Millward Brown 2012 Q1 Brand Health Study):
    • 86% are aware of the G Series®
    • 70% have tried the G Series®
    • 12% indicated G Series® is the brand they drink most often
    • 34% of those aware of the G Series® learned about it through television advertising
    • Of those who have tried the products, 69% have incorporated Gatorade Prime® in their routine and 87% have incorporated Gatorade Recover® in their routine

b) Excluding Other Factors
Spending Levels:

Spending levels on G Series® during the first fiscal year (April 2011 – December 2011) were lower due to the support of multiple product lines (G Series® & G2).  Media spend on G Series® in 2011 was $1.84 million whereas media spend in 2012 was $2.58 million.


In 2012 commodity prices and  innovation required a 7% price increase for the base Gatorade Perform® product.  During this same time period Powerade reduced its average shelf price by 12.7% and sold over 50% of its volume on deal.  

Distribution Changes:


Unusual Promotional Activity:


Other Potential Causes:

As a beverage the key external factor that affects our business is weather. Sales can fluctuate  by a certain amount depending on the weather experienced in the key markets across Canada.