A new ad campaign from Gatorade’s Bolt24 will, for the first time, directly challenge Bodyarmor’s aura as a healthier sports drink. Starting late this month, point-of-sale and outdoor marketing (pictured) in the US will tout Bolt24 as containing 30% less sugar than Bodyarmor SuperDrink. The ad will call Bolt24, launched by PepsiCo’s Gatorade unit more than a year ago, a “super easy choice.” Bodyarmor is minority owned by Coca-Cola and is distributed by Coke’s bottlers.
CAMPAIGN DETAILS. The Bolt24 marketing program will be national in scope, Gatorade’s Head of Brand Marketing Gina Hardy said in an interview. While the ads will be focused on the convenience/gas channel, they could appear in any retail channel, she said. The campaign will include billboards, spots on TVs at gas station pumps, and time on local radio. Social media is not in the current plan. “There is a possibility it could go bigger from there, but right now that’s what we’re planning,” Hardy said. “We wanted to hit people at the main points where they learn about products, and the No. 1 source of awareness for our new products by and large is always point of sale.”
SUGAR COMPARISON. A 16.9-oz bottle of Bolt24, which includes a watermelon base, contains 19g of sugar and is supplemented with stevia. A 16-oz bottle of Bodyarmor SuperDrink, which uses coconut water as a primary ingredient, includes 28g of sugar, about the same as regular Gatorade on a per-ounce basis. Bodyarmor Lyte, meanwhile, contains 2g of sugar for a 16-oz bottle and is bolstered with erythritol and stevia. Gatorade also produces a lower-sugar G2 variant that contains less than half the sugar per ounce as regular Gatorade and is sweetened with sucralose and acesulfame potassium (ace-K). A zero-calorie, Gatorade Zero, version uses the same two sweeteners.
BA SUGAR CUT. In January, Bodyarmor quietly cut the sugar content in its SuperDrink formula from 36g per 16-oz bottle to 28g, according to BD’s comparison of Bodyarmor labels. Bodyarmor declined to comment about the product’s sugar content or the sugar reduction. The brand also appears to be transitioning to the use of “Bodyarmor Sports Drink.” That name appears on the brand’s website, although SuperDrink remains on the label for the core product. It’s unclear whether a labeling change is on the way.
PERSPECTIVE. Founded in 2011 by CEO Mike Repole and fellow beverage entrepreneur Lance Collins, Bodyarmor hasn’t been shy about differentiating its product. The brand uses potassium instead of sodium for its primary electrolyte, and the drink contains no artificial sweeteners, flavors and dyes. Bodyarmor went so far as to call Gatorade “outdated” in a 2018 ad campaign featuring pro athletes and produced by the late NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, who also was a Bodyarmor investor. Despite the onslaught, Gatorade did not respond directly, choosing to treat Bodyarmor like a political challenger whose name was never to be invoked by the incumbent. Gatorade instead filed a complaint with the National Advertising Division that reached the FTC and led to some concessions by Bodyarmor (BD 10/1/19). Gatorade also launched Bolt24 (BD 6/28/19), which has served as an answer to Bodyarmor. The coming advertising campaign will be Gatorade’s first direct advertising response to Bodyarmor’s market positioning as a “more natural” and “better” sports drink.
WHY NOW? When asked, Gatorade’s Hardy said it was time “to set the record straight” about its Gatorade portfolio. “Bodyarmor has positioned itself as this healthier option for athletes,” she said. “Once you peel away the onion and understand what their nutrition profile is, a lot of athletes would be surprised.”
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