Be Like Mike. Drink Gatorade

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Austin Wharram
Com 305: Research Project Two
May 2, 2012
Be Like Mike. Drink Gatorade

University of Florida assistant coach had concerns as to why so many of his players were being affected by heat and heat related illnesses. He decided to turn to university physicians to solve the problem. Two factors were discovered in their research, the fluids and electrolytes that were lost in sweat were not being properly replaced, and the carbohydrates that were being burned up during exercise were not being replenished. The solution was a scientifically formulated balanced carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage to help the Gator players replenish their bodies during exercise. This new concoction was called “Gatorade.” Today Gatorade is still the most known water enhanced beverage, all though there are many others that have been developed with the same idea. One of the main reasons Gatorade was able to create its dynasty was the marketing campaign “Be Like Mike.” I decided to use this “Be Like Mike” campaign as the focus of my paper. The question I will diagnose is how Gatorade was successful in its campaign to persuade customers to buy their product. I will be approaching this campaign in a cultural perspective by using the Symbolic Convergence Theory. It was in 1991 when director of sports marketing for Gatorade, Bill Schmidt, and David Falk, Michael Jordan’s agent met. Gatorade was looking to endorse Jordan due to his recent success and rising fame. Schmidt and Falk were unable to come to any agreements at first. Falk had been reading and saw a story on Jack Nicklaus’s marketing deals, most of them being 10 year deals. Falk wanted a 10 year seven figures. Schmidt was only offering a 5 year deal for Jordan. Falk then decided to start a bidding war. Knowing that Coke would have a bigger budget than Quaker Oat’s Gatorade brand Falk went to them with this same deal. Michael Jordan was 28 at the time and the deal stated that if we walked off the court the deal would not be terminated. This would be the risk they take to build a deal with Jordan. Coke could not step up to the plate as they offered a five – year deal at $750,000 per year. Gatorade on the other hand did as they meet the demands of Falk with a ten – year deal worth $13.5 million. The goal of this campaign was to make Gatorade the most used athlete drink out there and it did just that. Coca-Cola may have made one of the biggest mistakes for their new product POWERade. They were unable to use Jordan in the marketing of this new product which may have made all the difference in its success. “I think if you had kept Michael with Coca-Cola and the advertising was well done, they would have been able to dramatically penetrate Gatorade’s dominance in the marketplace,” Falk said. This deal was also huge for Jordan in that all other companies that wanted to sign with him knew what it would take. Gatorade’s advertising firm decided to bring back its creative chief, Bernie Pitzel to create the commercial. After arriving Pitzel was shocked to find that they had already approved the first commercials. These commercials were nothing special, one was a story of a kid in Yugoslavia who wrote a letter to Jordan and it actually arrived in the hands of Gatorade’s spokesperson. The other was just highlights of him dunking, which Nike had already done. Pitzel had only three days to come up with something different. That night he went home and watched the film “The Jungle Book,” with is son. During the movie he heard the phrase “I Wan’na Be Like You,” the Monkey Song in the film. This is how Pitzel then decided to make a song, which he called “Be Like Mike.” He wrote this down on a tablecloth at his favorite restaurant, Avanzare. “Sometimes I dream – That he is me – You’ve got to see that’s how I dream to be – I dream I move, I dream I groove – Like Mike – If I could Be Like Mike – Again I try – Just need to fly – For just one day if I could – Be that way – I dream I move – I dream I groove...
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