- Gatorade is commemorating nearly forty years working with the NFL through a season-long marketing campaign centered on what it calls the "dunk" celebration, where coolers of its sports drink are dumped on the heads of winning teams' coaches, per details shared in an email with Marketing Dive.
- A hero "Road to the Dunk" ad released last month features players JJ Watt, Trevor Lawrence, DK Metcalf, George Kittle, Jarvis Landry and Tua Tagovailoa as they reflect on the significance of the dunk. The minute-long video has accumulated 1.5 million hits on Twitter at press time. Gatorade has also partnered with New Era for the first time on custom hats for each of the 32 league teams.
- The PepsiCo-owned brand at the same time is focusing on gaming through a Snapchat endless runner game where players control a digital avatar as it dodges obstacles and tries to pick up rewards. Gatorade plans to integrate aspects of the campaign with EA's popular Madden franchise on mobile and consoles in a bid to engage younger consumers later in the season.
Even consumers who don't enjoy football are likely familiar with the Gatorade dunk — also known as a Gatorade shower or bath — when bright orange buckets of the sports beverage are dumped on the heads of team coaches as they celebrate a victory. Gatorade is trying to draw out the emotional connection fans have to such moments through a season-long NFL campaign that puts an emphasis on cross-channel gaming activations and custom products.
It's always a journey to Greatness. A new @NFL season is under way and the Road to the Dunk starts now pic.twitter.com/1tknC81vwV— Gatorade (@Gatorade) September 12, 2021
The New Era hats, which are being sold through Fanatics.com, are emblazoned with team logos and repeated patterns of the Gatorade lightning bolt on the side panels, along with the drink brand's signature "G." Gatorade is additionally introducing a limited-time End Zone Berry flavor at select convenience stores, including 7-Eleven and Circle K, that features a Snapchat code that opens the runner game when scanned.
Users who try out the "Road to the Dunk" game will be directed to a website offering the chance to enter to win one of the lids, linking the mobile component back to the merchandise. Gatorade is also tying up with EA for future collaborations on the latest iteration of Madden on mobile and consoles.
The PepsiCo label, which first signed as an NFL sponsor in 1983, joins other marketers in experimenting more with how branded games can complement other channels. Adidas and Dick's Sporting Goods two years ago sponsored the first Snapchat video game that allowed players to buy products directly from the app. Commerce and interactive experiences have only grown in prominence in the time since due to the pandemic, which has pushed more people to shop online and seek virtual outlets for entertainment.
Gatorade gearing up a lengthy NFL effort comes as parent PepsiCo continues to perform well. Net sales jumped 11.6% year-on-year to $20.19 billion in the third quarter, though the company anticipates continued price hikes due to higher inflation as well as supply chain shortages that will impact brands like Gatorade.