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First in Thirst - Darren Rovell

This book makes for a fun read. At the core of the entire business is the importance of narrative. Darren explains that Gatorade became a success due to it's heritage, there is a truly fantastic story behind the drinks name.

College athletes were dying from heat stroke, and the University of Florida football coach challenged university physicians to come up with a solution for the home team, the Florida Gators.

Gatorade wasn't designed to be a commercial super story, it's heritage was founded in science. University researchers methodically experimented on student athletes in order to create the best drink to improve sports performance.

I love this business because science is at the heart of their history, they care about their customers and the brand is built on supporting athletes.

Even when hugely successful Gatorade would produce products not for retail, only for athletes.

With it's scientific background Gatorade grew as a b2b model, selling bulk orders to football clubs. The business really started to take off when they were picked up by the media.

The commercial geniuses at Gatorade then focused heavily on product placement, PR and sponsorship of sports tournaments in order to grow their consumer base.

It's impressive to note that Gatorade was able to outspend both Coca-cola and Pepsi on advertising campaigns, maintaining a strong monopoly on the sports drink market when threatened by new entrants. They also used scientific studies to debunk competitors Pepsi, who launched carbonated sport drink. Gatorade proved that the bubbles in the drink actually worsened sports performance!

I'd highly recommend this book for people interested in the power of PR and also people interested branding, the dedication to Gatorades scientific heritage continues to this day as they invest heavily into scientific research.


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