SXSW 2016: Gatorade Lab Showcases Sports Fuel Innovation


Gatorade Fuel Lab

Gatorade’s new brand campaign is “Your Game Is Our Lab,” but the PepsiCo-owned iconic sports drink is thinking much bigger than just coming up with a new tagline.

Gatorade is returning to its science-based roots at the same time that it is attempting to expand more broadly than ever before—and demonstrate innovation by developing the future of sports fuel and hydration.

As Fast Company puts it, Gatorade is not just settling for “a new flavor, bottle shape, or miracle hangover cure, but … aiming to transition from just a drink to become the ultimate ‘sports fuel’ company” and a bigger sports brand such as Nike and Under Armour.

Gatorade Fuel Lab #gfuellab SXSW 2016

As it kicks off the Gatorade Fuel Lab at SXSW, a new ad campaign plays an important role in supporting that strategy.

Using marquee athletes such as Olympic Gold medalist Usain Bolt, Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and WNBA star Elena Delle Donne, Gatorade shows digitized versions of them going through their routines and talks about how all the information gathered about athletic performance is going into the new brand and product extensions.

These potential new products, some of which are glimpsed in the ads, are protein bars, vegetable-based nitrate boosts and protein-enriched yogurt, and there’s a new smart cap bottle technology that measures and tracks hydration rates.

As detailed by The Wall Street Journal, Gatorade’s new smart bottles features a microchip and sweat patch to give users constant updates on how much and when they should drink.

Testing the digital fitness technology with the Brazilian national football team at the 2014 World Cup, an updated version has been trialed by other sports teams including the Boston Celtics and FC Barcelona.

A disposable sweat patch tracks sodium loss on the user’s forearm and a light flashes on the cap to alert the user it’s time to drink.

Xavi Cortadellas, innovation director at Gatorade told WSJ the patch “is basically a Band-Aid with electronics,” and said pro-athlete tests will continue ahead of the launch.

There are echoes here of Gatorade’s origins as a scientifically-designed sports hydration drink in the labs at the University of Florida nearly a half-century ago. But this positioning goes much further, and the product line and brand promise to “serve today’s evolved athlete [by] combining new data about performance, nutrition and biomechanics.”

More clues to what Gatorade is doing will come at SXSW 2016 in Austin, where the Gatorade Fuel Lab tent will showcase “the latest in sports fuel innovation through an immersive experience” to South by Southwest Sports attendees.

Gatorade Fuel Lab