Sunday, October 21, 2012

Gatorade Product Placements Turn Sour

Gatorade's "brand police" are working overtime during the Major League Baseball playoffs this year.  Gatorade, an official sponsor of the league's postseason, has been working diligently to get its logo in front of the camera.  Maybe a little too diligently.

During postseason contests, posters were put up in both dugouts to remind players that Gatorade must remain ever-present in the dugout during postseason games.  Also, during all televised interviews, players and coaches are being instructed to hold a Gatorade branded bottle or cup, even if they are not drinking it.  Not surprisingly, this kind of brand over-reach has created some uncomfortable moments.  During one interview, Washington Nationals Manager Davey Johnson mocked the brand, sarcastically saying "mmm...this Gatorade is good" after taking a sip of his water.  Similarly, word spread quickly when New York Yankee Raul Ibanez was forced to pour his bottle of water into a Gatorade cup before entering the press room for interviews.  For Gatorade, I guess the oddly staged bottles of Gatorade right next to the microphone don't suffice anymore.

Contrast this the authenticity of the Gatorade shower for the winning coach.  Although the origin of the Gatorade shower has been debated by former New York Giant and Chicago Bear players, it began as a celebratory act during the mid-1980's.  The scene symbolizes a perfect message - winners drink Gatorade.  Perhaps the best part for the brand is that its become a tradition for thousands of winning teams since.

Contrast both tactics.  Although marketing plans shouldn't be left to serendipity, a brand should always remember how absolutely critical authenticity is for a brand.

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