- Darren Rovell, ESPN.com Sports Business reporter
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It’s been a challenging few years for the folks at Gatorade.
Recent noise about one of its ingredients, brominated vegetable oil, led the brand to remove it. Its president, Sarah Robb O’Hagan, left last summer to become president of sports club chain Equinox. And it’s almost monopolistic market share, which it held for about 40 years, has slowly dwindled -- Powerade now has 30 percent of the sports drink market, according to trade publication Beverage Digest, to Gatorade's 69 percent, which is a little deceptive because part of Powerade's play has been to outsell Gatorade by making its product cheap.
Today, Gatorade will launch a television campaign called "Legend" with a commercial that it hopes will educate younger athletes about the brand's history. Developed in a lab in 1965 by four University of Florida doctors for the school's football team, the drink gained traction as the Gators began doing well on the field. The spot includes Peyton Manning, Dwyane Wade and Serena Williams in some of their "Lightning Bolt" moments with the brand by their side, showcasing the formula’s different bottles throughout time. Take a look here and if the song sticks with you, it's called "Lightning Bolt" by British artist Jake Bugg.
The focus on the bottle is what’s coming for the PepsiCo brand: a lighter, sleeker bottle that’s easier to grip and has a no-drip label. Athletes will get four fewer ounces (28 instead of the usual 32) as the bottle costs more to produce, but when it rolls out nationwide late this year, Gatorade executives believe it will be worth the trade-off.
I sat down with Wade, the Miami Heat guard and Gatorade spokesman, to talk about the innovation.
It's a bottle. How much does something like this really make a difference?
Well, we live in a world of convenience and we're always looking for something that makes things easier. When you're like me, you are picking it up a lot of times during the course of a game.
You don't have someone squeezing it into your mouth? I thought you got veteran treatment.
Nah, I squeeze it in myself.
Gatorade says the no-drip label is important. Why?
This was the biggest piece of feedback from athletes. We keep our Gatorade in a cooler with ice. When you pull it out, there's water dripping from the label and it makes a mess of your uniform.
You've been with Gatorade for a long time and you're in this commercial. What do you like about it?
I think it's important to know where the drink came from and why it was invented.
You know when I was a kid, we drank it out of glass bottles. Plastic was big.
Yeah, it's amazing to think it was glass.