Does Gatorade Need A Reality Check?

Newsflash Gatorade: not everyone is a professional athlete. Gatorade needs a reality check when it comes to their customer database. My reaction comes off the heels of one of their recent “hilarious” commercial campaigns featuring Peyton Manning as a store manager refusing to sell a woman a bottle of Gatorade. (Link: Gatorade Commercial).

Are we, as consumers of this advertisement, supposed to ignore the fact that Gatorade is available in almost every single grocery store, po-dunk gas station and found in every college fraternity house across the country? Gatorade cannot dictate who will buy and how they will use their products, nor should they try to. It’s not that everyone is unaware that Gatorade is meant to rehydrate athletes during a workout, race or match. I wonder why Gatorade is choosing to completely ignore and isolate a huge marketing opportunity. Are they not willing to accept that the average person who drinks their products is not one of the very, very few professional athletes of the world?

Sharing the same birthplace as Gatorade, Gainesville, Florida, I’ve always been loyal to Gatorade and never thought twice about choosing it over PowerAde or any other competitor. That orange bottle is always my go-to choice when I need a quick hydration, usually after a particularly intense spin class or tennis match. But after viewing this commercial, I am very worried about how they are choosing to represent their brand.

The commercial was staged as a candid camera episode and it was intended to reassert Gatorade’s image as an athlete-only brand. The most disagreeable feature of the commercial is that there were two male store clerks and a female customer. The situation made it seem like she was this ditzy party girl and they were judging her for being hungover from the night before. Gatorade’s advertising team should have made this more gender-balanced because it hints at slut-shaming women. The female customer is even pressured to pose in the “down-ward dog” position before being “allowed” to purchase a Gatorade, so this is not an overreaching argument. The people that approved this distasteful commercial need to think twice before granting something similar as suitable for the mass population to consume. One poor marketing choice, such as the subtle shaming of women, will take years of apology campaigns and can damage your brand forever. My main message: THIS COMMERCIAL IS NOT FUNNY.

But you know what would be funny? If Gatorade started featuring ads with the “alternative” ways real consumers actually use their products. Show us the caring mother who has been up all night with a child with the flu handing a bottle of orange Gatorade. What about the student who pulls an all-nighter studying for the LSAT and chugs a bottle to rehydrate and reinvigorate his brain before heading in the classroom to take the test? Or better yet, where is the hung-over beer-pong champion reaching for that Lemon-Lime flavored liquid resting on her nightstand? Why isn’t Gatorade embracing the fact that every college student would give their left arm for an ice cold Gatorade the morning after a night out on frat row?

Or what if Gatorade sponsored a fun, less-than-serious athletic event such as Bay to Breakers in San Francisco? This San Franciscan tradition is a gold mine practically begging for a sponsor like Gatorade to step in. Not only is there the serious race in the morning for this event but over fifty thousand people flood the streets of this hilly city in crazy costumes, or even nothing at all. Events like this will satisfy Gatorade’s wish to be the drink of choice for athletes, while “drawing in” the average-joes that buy their products. They need to stop trying to be an exclusive “athlete only” brand and embrace their hung-over beer-pong-champion consumers, for a true win-win. If Gatorade were to take the opportunity to sponsor an event like this, what thirst-quenching hangover-reducing sweet nectar of the gods do you think people will reach for the next time they’re at their neighborhood convenience store? Exactly. 💋