New Delhi: All these years, when he watched Sachin Tendulkar on television, drinking an orange liquid from a mineral water bottle, Vibhor Gupta knew it was an energy supplement but had no idea what it was.
Now Gupta and tens of thousands of cricket fans are about to find out for good. And from the Man himself. During the World Cup, which is under way, Tendulkar will talk about the secret elixir—courtesy a new commercial.
PepsiCo has decided to use the World Cup as the platform to start a mass-awareness campaign about the drink that it actually launched in India way back in 2004.
PepsiCo executives, who didn’t want to be quoted, said Tendulkar, who has been endorsing Pepsi for years, will now also be the face of the orange sports drink that he and his fellow cricketers imbibe on the field. In case you still don’t know, it is Gatorade.
With the new campaign, PepsiCo is hoping that other sports associations and centres of physical activity, such as gymnasiums, clubs, stadiums and schools, will now begin to associate Gatorade with sports and not merely view it as yet another soft drink. It also wants to underscore that Gatorade isn’t an energy supplement either, but a sports drink to help athletes stay hydrated.
The timing, in addition to it being the World Cup that will be the centre of attraction of this cricket-crazy nation, couldn’t be better. “I had no idea it was Gatorade,” says Gupta, who is a marketing executive at Jaypee Greens, a real-estate project in Greater Noida. Gupta thought Tendulkar and co. were drinking Red Bull, a much-hyped energy drink that has a cult following and has made its owners billionaires.
Gupta has good reason not to know. Because of regulations laid down by the International Cricket Council, with with Pepsi has an official contract, PepsiCo hasn’t and still won’t flaunt the “Gatorade” brand on drinks trolleys during the World Cup matches. Nor does the deal allow Gatorade to be consumed in uniquely-designed Gatorade bottles, which are commonplace.
Until a few years back, Gatorade wasn’t available for members of the senior cricket team—India’s richest athletes—let alone poorer sportspersons from other disciplines. Former test cricket Nikhil Chopra, who now analyses matches on television, says players in his time had either glucose or oral rehydration solutions such as Electral, and drank Gatorade only during tours to places such as Australia.
“Today’s players have parts of Gatorade, parts of glucose,” says Chopra.
PepsiCo executive director Abhiram Seth says his company is “just starting” with Gatorade, though he declined to say how it has been faring in India so far. Market information company Datamonitor Plc. said it didn’t have “sufficiently reliable” data to comment on market shares in India. The overall market for energy drinks, however, registered a compounded annual growth rate of 10.7% between 2006-07. “With rising affluence and purchasing power, functional drinks are expected to maintain its historical growth of around 9% in the future also,” says Datamonitor’s Puneet Bansal. Market tracker ACNielsen India also says in a new report on the food and beverages sector that energy and sports drinks would lead the growth of the healthy beverage segment in India.
PepsiCo’s Abhiram says expansion plans have been planned for Gatorade through greater availability at stadiums and gymnasiums, and promotions will attempt to ensure sportspersons saw it as a drink that helped fight cramps.
“We don’t want Gatorade to degenarate into a sherbet,” says Seth. “It’s not for everyone, it’s for athletes.”