Sports drink brand Powerade announced today that it is changing its name to "P", a move designed to model Gatorade, now "G", the longtime market leader in the category.
"Powerade maintains its distinctive taste," said Powerade brand manager Jeff Martin. "But from now we want customers to realize they are drinking P."
Powerade was first launched by Coca-Cola in 1988 as a competitor to PepsiCo's Gatorade. But 21 years later it still only holds 21-percent of the sports drink market to Gatorade's 77-percent. And with Gatorade's "G" campaign freshening the older brand last year, Coca-Cola felt it needed to make a similar move.
Early results have been mixed.
"I think it was a good move on their part," said one sports drink consumer who was offered a free sample at his gym, but declined. "I never really verbalized it, but I always thought as Powerade as pee. Now it is officially."
A fellow gym patron agreed.
"I took a sample, well a sip. My friend dared me. I'm into MMA and I heard about that one UFC guy who drinks his own urine so I thought 'hey, why not?'" he said. "It was exactly what I expected when they gave be a bottle marked P. I just wonder whose it was."
Beverage marketing experts and media have ripped the move, hailing it "another misstep by the Powerade brand," "perhaps the worst marketing decision in the history of marketing," and "I think I'm going to be sick," among the more favorable reviews.
Yet Coca-Cola is pushing through with the re-branding and is in a heavy ad rotation with it's "What's P?" spot featuring former major league baseball All-Star Moises Alou and UFC light heavyweight Lyoto Machida.
"We expected some initial confusion over the new name," said Martin, Powerade brand manager. "That's typical. Gatorade had it with G, as well. But eventually customers will realize they are drinking the same delicious beverage enhanced with natural flavors. It's P."
Also today, PepsiCo announced it is dropping its G re-naming and official changing its sports drink back to "Gatorade."
"Yeah, that was just a ploy all along to get Coke to call Powerade 'P' and they finally came through," said Gatorade brand manager Scott Ross. "They're so stupid."