Tuesday, September 14, 2010

PepsiCo's Mission to Sell Gatorade

Posted By on Tue, Sep 14, 2010 at 12:18 PM


Whether I'm pounding the pavement on foot or pedaling my way through town on two wheels, it seems like I'm always working up a sweat. And because I'm a sweater of the saltiest kind—white streaks down my face—I usually rehydrate with electrolyte drinks, like Gatorade. I go through that stuff like it's laced with addictive drugs.

So imagine my surprise when I read in today's Wall Street Journal that PepsiCo, Inc. has reported a three-year slump in its sales of Gatorade. Apparently Gatorade is somehow too ordinary and has been dubbed "uncool" by teenage athletes. Aghast at this news, I read the remainder of the article, feeling a little bit embarrassed to be such a fan of a beverage that is clearly so yesterday.

However, PepsiCo has initiated a new division of sales and marketing called "Mission Control," which sounds like a fun place to work. The Gatorade staffers in "Mission Control" monitor everything from blogs to Twitter and Facebook posts in order to determine what is being said about Gatorade products. By tracking social media, they hope to figure out what consumers want and how better to serve them. The staffers also have the option to jump into online chats and correct misinformation or offer suggestions as to which products might best suit an athlete's needs.

All this talk of Gatorade reminded me of an urban legend.

Back in the 1960s, a team physician at the University of Florida invented an electrolyte-replacement drink to help the football players combat the physiologic stress of heat and humidity during their games and practices. The drink was named Gatorade, a nod to the University of Florida Gators football team. All I can say is, it's a good thing the drink wasn't invented for the football team at Florida State. Who'd want to consume a sports drink called Seminole Fluid?

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