Giving Mom A Starting Position On The Team

By Rebecca Harris
Agency: TBWA Chiat Day Los Angeles
Client: Gatorade
Category: 2011

Giving Mom A Starting Position On The Team This paper will show how planning gave Gatorade a new way to think about and talk to moms. Our new approach gave mom a more prominent role on our team by recognizing everything she does for her team.

Context: Athletes Only Gatorade has a rich history with over 45 years of fueling athletes, reflected in their brand belief: that Gatorade is a catalyst for athletic achievement. They had convinced generations of teen athletes of Gatorade’s necessity by associating it with the intense, game-changing performances of the world’s best athletes. While Gatorade’s communications had successfully connected with teen athletes, the brand had never directly spoken to their moms.

Gatorade had always thought of moms of athletes as important, especially since they knew that moms were the ones most often responsible for Gatorade’s purchase. But the brand had followed packaged goods conventions and only approached her as a stereotypical “Shopper Mom,” defined by her role as her family’s chief decision maker at the grocery store. As a result, Gatorade’s previous conversations with mom had always centered on price-value messaging.

Category Convention: The Only Way To Mom’s Heart - Her Wallet In 2010, Gatorade tasked us with getting mom’s attention with a print ad assignment focused on the usual price-value message. However, in a tough economy, the increasingly competitive beverage category was full of similar messages – would this really be enough? To stand out from all the other beverage communications, we wondered if there was a different conversation we could be having with moms of athletes.

Audience Research: Down And Dirty With Mom While Gatorade was open to us finding a new way to speak to moms, there would be no new dollars available for research, so I was told to get “resourceful” in finding out more about our target. I solicited information from any moms of athletes I could get my hands on, including my aunts, neighbors, and moms from our agency that I shadowed for a couple of weekends. I wasn’t above “stalking” a few moms in the supermarket aisles and practice fields either.

Understanding Mom: Can One Woman = A Pro-Team’s Entire Staff? I found a richer picture of mom developing, beyond the snapshot of a “Shopper Mom.” She was very interested in her children’s athletics and deeply involved in their behind-the-scenes orchestration. She showed an incredible dedication to her young teen’s sports, taking on the many roles for which most pro teams would hire a full-time staff:

TEAM MANAGER: She coordinates schedules and transportation, cleans uniforms and hauls equipment to games and practices. SPORTS PSYCHOLOGIST: Mom supports and counsels athletes through injuries and losses, while keeping winning egos in check. TEAM NUTRITIONIST: Mom makes sure her kid is always hydrated with nutritious snacks and drinks. TEAM CHEERLEADER: Mom is usually the one cheering the loudest on the sidelines – through desk research, we found that 2/3 of moms admitted bragging about their kid’s sports achievements.

Mom dutifully undertakes more roles than the profile of a “Shopper Mom” encapsulated. She was clearly the unsung hero behind every young athlete.

Profile Shift: From The Supermarket To The Sidelines As a result of our research, we could see that Gatorade’s “Shopper Mom” profile fell short when it came to accurately describing moms of athletes. Appealing to her as merely a “grocery store gatekeeper” would be a missed opportunity.

Our target was actually a “Sideline Mom,” a woman with a more complex role and profile due to the myriad of sports staffing duties she takes on for her athlete. She was a far cry from the one-dimensional “Shopper Mom” or the derogatory minivan-driving “Soccer Mom” stereotypes (which, by the way, she recoiled from). This shift would require a new approach in how Gatorade talked to moms.

Opportunity: From Playing To Competing From past research with athletes, we knew that between the ages of 11 and 14, there is an inflection point in a child’s athletic development in which they start to identify themselves as an “athlete.” What we learned from moms is that there is a sweet spot during these years in which she too starts to see her kid’s potential as an athlete. Suddenly, mom’s viewpoint on her child’s participation in sports shifts from “playing for fun” to “competing to win.”

As a result, mom starts to see her own role differently -- from merely supporting her kid to playing an active role in their athletic success. Because this is new territory for mom, she looks to anyone and everyone for guidance, including the strong mommy-blogging community, seeking out any advantage she can to help her child reach their athletic potential. Strategy: Unleashing Potential We saw this shift in her mindset as the perfect time to make her aware of Gatorade’s scientifically proven formula for fueling athletic achievement. Our strategy was to show her that Gatorade unleashes athletic potential. We believed this approach would not only make an emotional appeal to her, but also align the brand with mom’s new goal: her athlete’s success.

Creative Brief: Audience: From Shopper Mom to Sideline Mom Opportunity: From playing for fun to competing to win Product: Fuel for athletic achievement

Strategy: Gatorade unleashes athletic potential

The Creative Idea: Become Our creative idea and messaging was expressed through our headline, “Become,” which spoke to mom through her vantage point -- watching her child become an athlete. Our work shifted the spotlight to the sidelines, framing the playing fields with the stories of the women who help make their athletes’ success possible. Told from her perspective, we attempted to bring to life the emotional aspects of mom’s authentic struggles and sacrifices as she helps her child reach their potential.

We took to the sidelines and shot actual Sideline Moms, which we featured throughout the campaign. The print ads visually captured the raw emotions of real moms during their athletes’ games, while the messaging spoke about mom’s experience as the mother of an athlete using her own voice.

Because our client believed that we had found a way to forge an emotional connection with mom, Gatorade found additional dollars to further extend our concept. Tapping into our insight of the power of mom’s digital communities, they chose “Become” to grow beyond just a print ad into a broader campaign with multiple digital components.

Our digital efforts attempted to connect with mom by shining the spotlight on Sideline Moms and giving our unsung hero some recognition. The brand’s hub for moms ( became home to a series of documentary webisodes. These short films uncovered the emotionally inspiring stories of the struggles and sacrifices of actual Sideline Moms of both young athletes and professional superstars like Kevin Durant, Mia Hamm and LaDanian Tomlinson. All moms interviewed reflected on their journeys of helping their child “become” the athlete they are today, reminding our audience why they work so hard for their athletes and inspiring them to keep at it.

Webisodes: Everyday Moms • Real Basketball Mom

• Real Soccer Mom

• Real Football Mom

Superstar Moms • Kevin Durant’s Mom

• Stephanie Hamm’s Mom

• LaDanian Tomlinson’s Mom

Results: Moms Appreciate Gatorade’s Authentic Approach & Flock To Join Our Team

1) OUR STRATEGY STOOD OUT AND RESONATED WITH MOM IN PRINT: • 84% thought that the points the ads made about helping their kids become athletes were relevant to them. • Nearly 3/4 thought the ads contained new/different information compared to other sports drink ads. (Source: Millward Brown)

2) OUR EMOTIONAL APPEAL ENGAGED MOM AND RESULTED IN AN OVERALL LIFT TO THE BRAND: • The campaign had over 45.8 million total media impressions in less than 3 months, and 100% of moms’ conversations about the campaign were positive to neutral. (Source: Gatorade’s internal social media monitoring) • While it is difficult to isolate which Gatorade campaign led to particular sales results, during the period that this campaign ran, Gatorade experienced double-digit growth (as compared to the same period last year). (Source: Gatorade’s internal sales figures)

3) MOM CONTINUES TO BE PART OF GATORADE’S STARTING LINE-UP What started as a simple print ad assignment and grew into a campaign continues to build momentum for Gatorade: • Just last month, as a result of our “Sideline Mom” positioning and strategy, Gatorade extended its outreach to moms, teaming up with the Women’s Sports Foundation to launch an initiative for moms to pledge their support to helping their young athletes “Become.” • Gatorade’s president hosted a forum for Sideline Moms at the 2011 BlogHer conference, which featured former US National Soccer Team player and mom Brandi Chastain, Gatorade sports nutritionist Leslie Bonci, and webisode star and Sideline Mom of L.T., Loreane Tomlinson.