Brand Strategy

Why Gatorade is reviving its iconic ’90s campaign for a new generation

“It Hasn’t Changed” is the brand’s biggest campaign to date in terms of media spend and athlete participation, Chief Brand Officer Anuj Bhasin said.
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Gatorade

· 3 min read

For its biggest marketing push to date, Gatorade is throwing it back to the ’90s.

The PepsiCo brand’s latest campaign, called “It Hasn’t Changed,” is based on a decades-old tagline, “Is it in you?,” which anchored a campaign hinging on the idea that drinking Gatorade would help athletes perform at their peak. This year’s reboot, like other media from the ’90s and early 2000s that have seen recent revivals, has a slightly different message.

Youth participation in sports tends to drop off considerably around high school, and “It Hasn’t Changed” is centered on addressing that drop-off by showing young athletes that they already have what it takes to be great, Anuj Bhasin, Gatorade’s chief brand officer, said.

“The best athletes in the world…all have one commonality,” Bhasin told Marketing Brew. “They have that belief inside that they are able to overcome, that they have that ‘it,’ that spark, to actually overcome the hardship that is facing them. Today, that greatest obstacle for these athletes is within…That tagline from the ’90s is even more relevant today than it was when it first came to market.”

Go big or go home: The campaign is Gatorade’s biggest yet, both in terms of media spend and in athlete involvement, Bhasin said. It’s running across platforms including TV, social, and out-of-home. Some billboards, including one of Caitlin Clark in Indianapolis, went up in mid-May, but the official tagline revival will be on full display starting May 28 with a 60-second ad that debuted during Game 4 of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals.

Like Mike: The spot is narrated by Michael Jordan, Gatorade’s first athlete partner who originally helped popularize “Is it in you?,” which some might remember from its visuals of athletes sweating different colors of Gatorade.

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“We wanted to bring him back in a way that was authentic and helped us tell the story that, no matter what is changing in sport, no matter how different sport is now, it’s all about what’s inside,” Bhasin said.

They’re the moment: The ad also features appearances from current active athletes like Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, Las Vegas Aces center A’ja Wilson, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, University of Florida quarterback DJ Lagway, Olympic hurdler Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, and Clark, now a guard for the Indiana Fever, but who started working with Gatorade during her historic college career.

All those athletes are hyper-relevant at the moment, Bhasin said: Tatum and the Celtics are headed to the NBA Finals, Wilson, Clark, and the WNBA are drawing record-breaking audiences early in their season, Allen is one of Gatorade’s newest partners, Lagway was Gatorade’s 2023–2024 National Football Player of the Year, and McLaughlin-Levrone is likely headed to the Paris Olympics with Team USA this summer.

Bhasin said almost all of the athletes on Gatorade’s roster are participating in the campaign on social and via a considerable out-of-home component inspired by the Gatorade-colored sweat visuals of the ’90s campaign.

Fountain of youth: Though “It Hasn’t Changed” is based on creative from the ’90s—a move many marketers have embraced in recent years—it is designed to target Gen Z and athletes ages 13 and older, Bhasin said. The social media component, athlete stories, and “a few other surprises” tied to colored sweat that will show up through the summer and into football season are all meant to increase brand resonance with that demographic.

“We really hope it inspires the next generation to be great like those in front of them,” he said.

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