Sponsorship is a costly investment, but when done correctly, its benefits can magnify brand presence tenfold. This year, PEPSICO wanted to ascertain whether or not Gatorade’s continued sponsorship of the NBA was delivering value. They needed validated evidence to inform their marketing strategy for the next season, understanding if the partnership was still growing their brand equity. Having already utilised one of our automated offerings, Gatorade’s marketing team knew they could depend on the validated results afforded to them by using a brand measurement methodology through ZappiStore.

To understand the sponsorship’s impact on Gatorade’s brand perception, they chose Added Value’s Snapshot solution and made sure to test twice – once before the NBA playoffs and again after. What’s more, they achieved a better measure of the Frost campaign’s (above) overall influence by splitting their audience by target group – competitive athletes and the general market.

As Gatorade aren’t the only sports drink battling for memorability, they chose to test themselves against competitors; Powerade, who also work closely with NBA, and Red Bull, who sponsor the Golden State Warriors. The results revealed that the Frost campaign triggered a change to Gatorade’s inferred character traits, positioning it markedly favorably against alternative brands.

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Gatorade’s cultural impact

Added Value’s Snapshot determines how well a brand is leveraging culture by congregating data from a range of factors – Vision, Inspiration, Boldness, and Excitement – collectively, its ‘VIBE’ score. This is a quantitative, validated measure that foreshadows growth in order to understand which brands lead culture and which ones lag behind.

Gatorade’s Frost campaign outperformed its competitors as a label people can take pride in, as well as one that’s generally thought to be breaking new ground – with an increase after the playoffs among competitive athletes and the general market alike.

Gatorade's VIBE score before the NBA playoffs

Gatorade’s VIBE score before the NBA playoffs

Gatorade's VIBE score after the NBA playoffs

Gatorade’s VIBE score after the NBA playoffs

Has an emotional bond been forged?

Maintaining a similar theme to the Frost campaign’s ‘penguin in a tank top’ – Added Value’s Brand Equity measurement is fashioned into the shape of an iceberg. This is to visualise the makeup of an ad’s reception: brand presence (what it looks like) and that which lurks beneath the surface, brand credit (what it feels like). A brand can directly influence measures at the tip of its iceberg, but the larger lower half hosts scores that are far more valuable and harder to accrue: a brand’s emotional bond to its audience.

Gatorade scored well in both respects; its overall brand presence and likeability increased after the playoffs, ahead of its competitors. Despite its attention-grabbing aesthetics and energetic style, Red Bull didn’t resonate quite so highly on an emotional level.

Gatorade's Brand Equity score (left) & Red Bull's score (right)

Gatorade’s Brand Equity score (left) & Red Bull’s score (right)

Archetypal associations

Depending on which Jungian archetypes a brand taps into, consumers’ emotional associations will vary. According to the results garnered by Added Value’s Character Lab – an online game wherein consumers choose images to unveil the true character of a brand – Gatorade began the process as a ‘hero’, ‘explorer’, and ‘nurturer’ among competitive athletes.

After its Frost campaign gained notoriety during the NBA playoffs, ‘nurturer’ was swapped for ‘ruler’, affirming an audience that identifies confidence as a key Gatorade trait. Among the general market, however, Gatorade’s sense of fun was a focal point, and the brand was deemed a ‘jester’.

Enhanced drinks occupy an increasingly competitive market, and brands face difficulties when trying to differentiate themselves based on product-related benefits alone. Those distinguishing themselves with a strong archetype are therefore dramatically more recognizable. There is no single archetype that defines a successful brand, though there is a clear relationship between the strength and consistency of character with cultural vibrancy. It is a good sign, then, that Gatorade’s associations are strong, distinct, and parallel to their own vision.

Gatorade's Character Lab score among competitive athletes (left) & general market (right)

Gatorade’s Character Lab score among competitive athletes (left) & general market (right)

Where to next?

When presenting Gatorade’s story (below) at IIeX 2016, Lauryl Schraedly, Marketing Director of Consumer Insights and Strategy at PEPSICO, said a proven methodology, combined with the speed of ZappiStore, enabled the company to quickly reaffirm the success of their strategy (Added Value Confidential, 2016).

Cementing a strong, confident identity, to which the use of NBA star Dwayne Wade was leveraged effectively, aided memorability – particularly amongst men in the general market. With results revealing the trajectory of their campaign delivered in hours, not weeks, they were far better positioned to decide whether or not to pursue a similar strategy next year – setting about any further enhancements.

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You can learn more about Snapshot, Added Value’s brand insight solution and all of its features, on Zappistore.com.

Andrew Hodges

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Andrew Hodges

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