I suppose these questions and remarks may be perceived by some as rubbing salt in the wound, particularly fans of Vanderbilt University Men’s Basketball, and especially following Vandy’s buzzer-beater loss to Murray State in the opening round of NCAA tournament play. So sorry, but my boys are glued to the television, computer, CBS and ESPN during March

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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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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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Cadbury Adams, a Cadbury Schweppes Company

My recent family road trip through the heartland had me spending more time than usual pumping gas and shopping in convenience stores, so a few chewing gum brands “gone single letter” caught my eye. As you may recall, I already have reported on Single Letter Envy in Hotel Branding. Well, it appears that the quest for single or one-letter brands is not limited to the hospitality industry (let alone others I’m sure to write about in the future), but has “stretched” to the confectionery industry too.

Turns out, both single letter gum brands that caught my eye are owned by the same company, Cadbury-Adams, part of “Cadbury plc – a leading global confectionery business with the number one or number two position in over 20 of the world’s 50 largest confectionery markets.”

Yes, Cadbury Adams has migrated from its long-lasting Bubblicious brand name (having equal style for each letter) to a differently styled beginning B in Bubblicious, and most recently, to the letter B, standing alone, front and center on packaging; fully-truncated to B, as shown above. So, in our ever-abbreviated and truncated branding world, where G now means Gatorade (among other things, as a previously blogged about here), B now apparently means Bubblicious, and S now means Stride (another Cadbury Adams chewing gum brand). Might care be in order to avoid having these two brands appear side by side on store shelves — at least in the order appearing above — to avoid some unintended combined meaning of the brands? Perhaps one of the “sticky” consequences of single letter brands is the temptation others may have to spell alternate and unfavorable words and acronyms with them.

As you might imagine, confronting these single letter brands raises a number of questions in need of some answers. For example, are single or one-letter brands for chewing and bubble gum, just the latest flavor trend, or are they here to stay? Why are they currently so appealing, at least to Cadbury Adams? Are there other single letter gum brands in the marketplace, or just B S? Lastly, what are some of the legal ramifications of branding single letters for confectioners?

I’ll leave the first two questions for others to chew on — especially marketers, but I’ll take a crack at the second two.


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