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In November, I wrote about how Gatorade’s 2009 re-branding as G has been a complete failure. G was an ill-conceived approach to slowing sales in 2007 and 2008. It damaged brand equity, confused consumers and didn’t reverse the trend of falling unit sales.

In the final paragraph of my last blog, I noted that PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi said the company is planning a “massive Gatorade transformation” for 2010. I recommended that Gatorade should follow the model of Coca-Cola when they decided to retire New Coke. By doing this, Coca-Cola admitted their mistake and moved on by hitting the reset button on their brand.

Initial details of PepsiCo’s 2010 “massive Gatorade transformation” have been made publicly known here, here and here. Gatorade’s brand strategy for 2010 seems mediocre. Although they are making some positive changes, other moves indicate that they still don’t understand how to successfully market their brand.


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You may recall the Gatorade v. Powerade false advertising lawsuit filed by a Pepsico entity (Stokely-Van Camp, Inc.) against rival The Coca-Cola Company back in April, discussed here (with a copy of the complaint).

You also may recall how G scored an F in the courtroom, back in August, losing a hotly contested motion for

Gatorade’s efforts to re-brand as “G” have been a dismal failure. It seems as if the brand management staff at Gatorade consumed a few too many cold beverages while making this decision, and I’m not referring to refrigerated Gatorades.

The history of the G re-brand has its roots in 2007. Unit sales were flat in 2007 compared with 2006, after three years of double digit growth, according to market research firm Information Resources Inc (IRI). More poor results followed in 2008 despite product innovations and brand revitalization efforts (here and here).  In January 2009, Gatorade started the G re-brand. The G re-brand has done nothing to improve Gatorade’s bottom line. In fact, it has harmed the bottom line.

The decision to modify a brand name should not be taken lightly. A brand name communicates the essence of the brand to consumers. According to Rick Baer, Professor of Marketing at Thunderbird School of Global Management and former Global Brand Manager with Colgate-Palmolive and Dial Corporation, a brand name “should conjure up all the associations and images you want for your brand”. Does G accomplish that? The answer is a resounding no.


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Almost four months ago now, I blogged about the filing of the Gatorade v. Powerade false advertising and trademark dilution lawsuit, here. At the time, some called Gatorade’s false advertising claims “dubious” and others chided Gatorade for biting Powerade’s bait to file suit.

Advertising Age has now reported about the recent court ruling addressing Gatorade’s request for an emergency preliminary injunction, here. For those of you who have been looking for a copy of the court’s interesting 54-page decision, it is available, here.

As you will see, the Court’s opening paragraph telegraphed its critical view of Gatorade’s claims:

This is a case about an advertising battle between two major consumer products companies over one company’s comparison of its beverage to human sweat. That company advertises its beverage by promoting its inclusion of certain electrolytes contained in sweat, and its competitor wants it to stop.

In short, G got an F in the courtroom. First, G failed to prove that any of the challenged statements were false or establish it was entitled to the requested emergency injunctive relief while the case works its way toward trial. Second, U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl also found “frivolous” certain of G’s arguments relating to alleged irreparable harm. Last, G appeared to frustrate the Court by ignoring it made similar advertising statements about its own Gatorade Endurance Formula product, as late as a week before filing suit against Powerade. The “pot calling the kettle black” never plays well in the courtroom. I wonder who is doing the sweating now.


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