Gatorade, the official sports nutrition drink of the NBA, made the NBA a key focus this year and ensured a high profile within TV coverage at this month’s NBA Finals with cups, bottles and signage seemingly encircling the basketball courts, the team benches players (and even the coaches) of the 2013 finalists San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat.
The Pepsi brand’s ubiquitous presence continued post-games as logos were prominently displayed on media backdrops and in front of athletes and coaches during post-game media sessions.
Such shots of the Gatorade brand around the court and in the press conferences are not directly paid for by Pepsi but nevertheless can generate further value for the brand.
Perhaps a more interesting element of its NBA Finals basketball activation was its partnership with Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade,
Gatorade has had a long term ambassador relationship with Wade since 2005 and he promotes the brand through his everyday life channels – such as loading pictures of his home Gatorade-laden fridge onto his Instagram stream.
Wade also fronted a Gatorade TV spot, continuing the brand’s ‘Win From Within’ strapline, that was screened through the Playoffs and during the commercial breaks of the Finals themselves.
When a brand becomes part of the performance routines of professional athletes, high profile spots like Roy Hibbert’s now viral Gatorade chug can come out of nowhere.’
Another interesting Gatorade from this year’s playoffs was the Roy Hibbert Gatorade Challenge.
During the Indiana Pacer’s Game 7 loss to Miami in early June, TV cameras happened to focus on Pacer’s star Roy Hibbert’s personal hydration break – which saw him drink a 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade in a astonishingly quick time.
This footage became a viral phenomenon after a viewer recorded the entire event on Vine – thus meaning Hibbert downed the bottle in less than six seconds (5.4 seconds exactly according to Eyewitness News).
A USA Today blog called ‘For The Win’ picked up on the clip, staff tried to emulate Hibbert’s drinking feat and by midday Twitter was spreading the #RoyHibbertChallenge across the USA.
Hibbert himself later joined the action, challenging at least two people on Twitter to try the challenge.
This kind of spontaneous, consumer-led virility sees a current Google search for ‘Roy Hibbert Challenge’ returns more than 400,000 results – all of which are a form of unearned promotion for Gatorade with the added consumer authenticity.
Gatorade’s objective is to position itself as the ultimate drink that athletes use, not simply a beverage perceived as ‘sugar water’, sees its sponsorship activation cross the invisible line into consumer-created, viral content.
So it’s investment in the NBA Finals is a smart business move according to NerdWallet retail analyst Matthew Ong: The brand is currently emphasising both print media and TV. Print is perhaps a better medium to tell the nutrition story of new Gatorade Prime chews and Recover beverage shakes, while TV is still king for Gatorade’s established sports drink business as it reminds viewers who’s on top.’
But perhaps, it is the viral, consumer-spread content and activation loike the Hibbert Challenge that is most effective when it comes to building and consolidating genuine relationships between the brand and the consumer.
Roy Hibbert Challenge – Twitter
Roy Hibbert Drinks Gatorade – YouTube
Gatorade Dwayne Wade TVC
Dwayne Wade Instagram