BodyArmor heats up sports drink wars with new campaign, eyes Gatorade's top spot

BodyArmor founder Mike Repole told FOX Business that he wants to exceed Gatorade in overall sales by 2025.

BodyArmor is targeting a new generation of athletes in its latest advertising campaign as it looks to surpass its longtime rival and industry leader, Gatorade, as the top-selling sports drink brand.

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Set for its national television debut during “The Match 2: Champions for Charity” on Sunday, the campaign builds on BodyArmor’s message that it is a healthier, modernized alternative to Gatorade. BodyArmor founder Mike Repole said his company recognizes the need to educate new customers on the differences between the brands as it approaches $1 billion in retail sales.

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“The 'Only You' campaign is more about 10- to 30-year-olds and the future,” Repole told FOX Business. “Gatorade, I can applaud them, because they’ve been around since 1965, and that deserves a lot of credit. Not too many companies or brands can be around for 55 years. But the problem is that they’ve never evolved.”

The advertising campaign is the largest in BodyArmor’s history in terms of cost and will feature seven of the brand’s athlete endorsers, including the MLB slugger Mike Trout, NBA superstar James Harden and soccer legend Megan Rapinoe. Actor Michael B. Jordan provided the voiceover work on the commercials.

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BodyArmor has been aggressive in its efforts to position itself as a legitimate Gatorade competitor, landing exclusive sponsorships rights in the sports beverage category for Major League Soccer and Ultimate Fighting Championship. The brand’s unique spin on the product has resonated with several top athletes, including Trout, who first made contact with BodyArmor executives shortly after turning pro and holds an equity stake in the company.

“The biggest weakness of mine was when I worked out or did physical activity or played games, I would cramp up a lot,” Trout said. “One day my dad came up to me and said ‘hey, try this drink. I saw it in a store near the house.’ I tried it and I liked it, contacted my agent and started a conversation. When I pick things I want to partner in or represent, I kind of do my background [research] to make sure the company is represented the right way. They have great people, and that’s how it started.”

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
KOCOCA-COLA COMPANY46.73+0.64+1.39%
PEPPEPSICO INC.130.81+1.06+0.82%

BodyArmor, which touts an all-natural formula with coconut water, has experienced rapid growth since its debut in 2011.  The brand has posted $800 million in retail sales over the last 52-weeks and executives expect to top $1 billion in retail sales by the end of the year.

Despite its success, Gatorade remains a dominant force in the U.S. sports drink industry, controlling more than a 70 percent share of market sales as of the end of 2019, according to Euromonitor. BodyArmor’s market share hovered around 10 percent.

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Harden, who plays for the NBA’s Houston Rockets and also holds BodyArmor equity, said the latest campaign has an “authenticity and relatability” that will attract everyday athletes.

“Our general awareness is growing, but it’s not just awareness of the brand itself, it’s the quality of the products too,” Harden added.

BodyArmor moved forward with the marketing push despite an ongoing coronavirus pandemic that brought the U.S. sports world to a complete stop and devastated countless businesses in recent weeks. The company’s revenue growth has continued this year despite a downtick in sales at physical retail locations.

“The biggest change has been watching consumer behavior,” Repole said. “The small stores, the convenience stores, the drug chains, less people are shopping in those because they’re not out and about. But e-commerce like Amazon, record numbers. Walmart, Target and the grocery business has been triple-digit growth.”

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The presence of Coca-Cola, which acquired a significant stake in BodyArmor in 2018 and became its second-largest shareholder, has provided a major boost to its expansion efforts.

“Year to date, we’re the No. 2 sports drink, ahead of PowerAde,” Repole said. “By the end of the year, officially, we’ll be the No. 2 sports drink and PowerAde will be in our rearview mirror. The goal to be the No. 1 sports drink in 2025 is still the goal and now we have a clearer sight to Gatorade than ever before. They’re in our sights.”

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