How Gatorade is leading PepsiCo

  • Click here to read the cover feature ’Gambling on the future’
  • Click here to read how ING Direct France monitors its brand reputation online and in call centres
  • IHG CMO Tom Seddon discusses how digital is integrated into the company’s marketing strategy

Sports drink Gatorade has a strong presence in North America, and plans to push the brand in the UK this summer. Its strategy is to move the product from being thought of as solely a sports drink to becoming a broader sports performance brand, providing expertise for athletes and people in training.

To gather insight into how consumers feel about the brand it set up a social media hub in Chicago last April that it calls Mission Control. There, a team staffed by a mixture of people from PepsiCo and its agencies monitor conversations happening on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. The aim is to be able to react quickly to conversations involving Gatorade.

Gatorade director William Morris says his team has seen a fundamental shift from discipline-based marketing to managing communication through product teams. “Before, we had a marketing communications department, or a PR department, pushing out strategy for all our products, no matter who the target was.

“Now we have teams associated with each [Gatorade] product line looking at how people engage with the products,” he says. These conversations in turn will influence where the brand goes in terms of new product development and its communications.

Getting people with the right skills to monitor the conversations has taken several months. “You have to employ the social [media] skills, which are rare, but you also need a team that is flexible.

“My staff have fixed projects to do, but because they are also monitoring conversations they have to be able to react quickly to address [comments] through social, digital or traditional media. Their skills are very digital and analytical,” Morris says.

The aim is to address issues quickly. For example, if someone incorrectly asserts that a Gatorade product contains a particular ingredient, an analyst in the room will immediately go to the relevant PR person to take it in hand.

“These people are leading something that has never been done at PepsiCo before,” says Morris. “It is an interaction and engagement with consumers that this company has never before invested in,” Morris says.

Gatorade is now moving towards being able to measure the effect of putting particular messages into social media, as well as the kinds of sentiments people show in response. “If the spend doesn’t really push up sentiment or awareness then we move to a different channel,” he says.

Morris wants to get together a community of people who are fans of the brand but are also influential on various social media channels to use as ambassadors. He is also keen to work more closely with Facebook and Twitter on a more robust partnership rather than on one-off campaigns. “We are not just focused on, we want to talk to people through every [technology] that is new and innovative.”

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here