PepsiCo Moves Gatorade Digital Marketing to TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles

Business had been with VMLY&R

The brand moved away from WPP late last year. - Credit by Getty Images
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PepsiCo has shifted responsibility for digital work on its Gatorade brand to longtime creative agency partner TBWA\Chiat\Day, a spokesperson for the beverage giant confirmed today.

“Chiat will continue to be our creative AOR in addition to taking on select digital marketing efforts for the brand,” the representative wrote.

PepsiCo did not elaborate, and a TBWA spokesperson declined to comment. So the scope of this new work is not clear.

It is also unclear at this time whether the decision followed any sort of pitch; sources say there was no formal review.

This news comes several months after PepsiCo ended an eight-plus-year relationship with VMLY&R, the then-newly-merged creative and digital network owned by WPP which had previously handled digital assignments for both Gatorade and Tropicana.

While the client did not cite specific reasons for the move at that time, it did point to a desire for “a differentiated model within the digital space” after stating it was “proud of our work together and the business results it has achieved.”

Pepsi, like many other clients, has begun experimenting with taking more of its own marketing work in-house—with famously varied results.

When Adweek broke the news, several parties confirmed that the digital business for the Gatorade and Tropicana brands would not be inherited by their respective creative agencies, TBWA and BBDO.

The Gatorade account first went to TBWA\Chiat\Day L.A. in 2008 after Pepsi, which works almost exclusively with Omnicom agencies, pulled away from Chicago’s Element 79 and cited the need for “a partnership change” (that shop later folded into DDB Chicago).

In a somewhat surprising move, the client then picked VML as digital AOR in early 2010 and moved web design duties to IPG’s Huge in an apparent attempt to shake up its mix after a dip in market share.

Gatorade continues to dominate the sports drink market with nearly three quarters of that space, though competitors like Coca-Cola’s Powerade and BodyArmor, a brand backed by former Lakers star Kobe Bryant, have chipped away at its position. In early 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported that new product lines like Gatorade Organic had failed to make up for a 0.5 percent U.S. sales slide, the first since 2012.

The latest totals from Kantar Media have Gatorade spending $133 million on paid media placements in the U.S. for 2017 and $123 million for the first nine months of 2018, a significant bump from the previous year.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.
Publish date: February 20, 2019 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT