Friday, June 18, 2010

And now a word for our sponsors...

Dear Gatorade company,

I wish to share with you some observations I've made regarding your new 3-stage "hydration system" of sports beverages. It might be fair to call me a loyal Gatorade customer. I've certainly popped an occasional bottle of lemon/lime consistently over the years. It took some time to acquire a taste for that flat, almost salty mouthfeel, but when I'm really thirsty, I admit that it does seem to do the trick better than water. Adding electrolytes to make my body absorb the stuff faster actually violates everything I know about osmosis, but frankly, I am not so knowledgeable about the anatomy of food absorption that I can rule out some cellular mechanism that clams up when presented with improper ionic strength. Or something. At any rate I can pull down your product a lot faster than I can as much water, which works for me, and even my flop sweat has got to be costing my body precious sodium that I'm unlikely to get from any other conceivable source.

So it's interesting to me that you've sought new additives for other chemicals I might crave before, during, or after physical exertion. Good idea, but I'm struggling with the marketing. See, it might be my physical resemblance to Peyton Manning, but I tend to associate my image as an athlete with your product. I may come off as a chubby dork in the office, but when I'm wiping my drenched brow, arching my back, and slugging down a Gatorade, that's when I feel awesome, like a real man. Now, it was bad enough when you started to put those little retractable nipples on the bottles a few years ago. No one feels manly when they slobber over one of those things to open it, and then suck plaintively at its tip. You had to hold it inches away from your mouth and squirt juice everywhere to avoid embarrassing yourself as you flop all over the stair-skier at the gym. So now there's a little sippy pouch full of Gatorade #1, and I've got to tell you that making this smaller doesn't help the coolness problem at all. (Although to be fair, I can see why you might avoid selling a bottle of yellowish liquid marked "#1.")

I mean, take a look at the guy you found to model it. This dude is a finer human specimen than I've ever even been able to imagine myself (and I used to whack my brother with a stick and yell, "I'm Conan!" which is even funnier if you ever saw the loincloth). He'd've zipped around the field three or four times while I was procrastinating my fat ass out of the car. And yet if we happened to meet up at the track for whatever reason, I'd be the one chortling at him. Do you see where I'm going with this? Your pouch of prime combines all of the serious, competitive athletic connotations of a baby bottle crossed with a juice box. Perhaps you might be better off marketing this stuff to my kids as a fun drink, just like all the other toxic crap they always ask me for.

Speaking of which, I happened to grow up in an artificially sweetened era that convinced me that primary-color red was the color of cherries, grapes glowed neon purple, and, most mysterious of all, that raspberries were bright blue. I'm used to associating these unnatural colors with liquified sugar-delivery mechanisms....but protein? You can suspend your disbelief and admit that fruit is in fact brightly colored, and that adding chemical colors only perfected what advertising nature had already begun. But good god, man: day-glo meat, garish dairy, fuzzy green nuts? Those are associations I have with with fumigating the refrigerator.

And while I'm offering this marketing advice, I can't leave out the fundamental flaw of this whole approach. Even with all this product development, you only get so thirsty as you work out. Offering different products for different stages of your workout is clever (and okay, it might get you back some market share, and the packaging industry might be happy with it), but it's not going to cause Gatorade drinkers to now purchase three times as much of your beverage. If they buy into the system, they'll still only be drinking the same volume of three different products. If you move just as many units but have more kinds of units, you've only made your life more complicated.

So here's my suggestion, and I think you'll like it. What you need to do is to convince non-athletic people to drink Gatorade for other purposes. Athletes only can drink so much, but what about Gatorade mixers for depressed housewives and husbands (just add grain alcohol)? Have you thought about high-tech throat hydration products for smokers and public speakers? Gatorine, that lemon/lime flavored oral antiseptic (with electrolytes!)? My best suggestion is based on why I ever thought it was a good idea to drink the stuff in the first place:

I'll be looking forward to the first royalty check. Thanks.

7 comments:

switters said...

That was really well done.

I'm strictly a water guy. And right out of the tap at that. This time of year down here when it's the mid-90s with 165% humidity, on Friday and Saturday nights I'll stick a plastic jug of water in the freezer and pull it out first thing in the morning when I start my chores. It lasts till about 3:15 in the afternoon.

Surely between all of us we can come up with some kind of Gator bomb, something to vie with The Irish Car Bomb and wussier pretender the Jeiger bomb. Say, a plastic cup of the original flavor Gatorade, then drop in a generous shot of cheap vodka, crack open a raw egg. Or an onion. I don't know. Call it an "Air 'Rade"?

Just spitballing.

Keifus said...

Yeah, I was watching the basketball game last night, and I realized this has been bugging me for a while.

I can't think of anything better than the cheap vodka (booze-like) and a plastic cup (flatware-esque). Maybe we could float a styrofoam packing peanut in there or something. Or add gelatin. There's gotta be a Swamp Gator too, and maybe a Sewer Gator. Insta-gator, made with coffee crystals? Varie-gator, with whatever hooch you have lying around? They make cocktails with red bull. How much worse could these be?

twif said...

the only time i drink gatorade is when i get a migrane (particularly if i've had too much breakfast sausage). seems to help. i don't care if it's psychosomatic or not.

otherwise, i stick to water for my rehydration needs.

for your gator-bomb: the original is the lemon-lime, right? plastic cup, 1/3 gatorade, 1/3 7-up, 1/3 cheap beer (miller high life would do) and then drop a shot of gin in.

Keifus said...

Should I point out that gatorade is a sometimes thing for me? For those times when my thirst feels a little more unnatural for one reason or another. When I'm actually exercising, I like water too.

switters said...

Keif, didn't you once link me to the Polyface Farms site? I think you did. Anyways, I'm rereading The Omnivore's Dilemma, and it turns out Pollan spent a week there, and that Saletin figures prominently in a chapter. Here's a quote:

"We're gong to have to refight the Battle of the Little Bighorn to preserve the right to opt out, or your grandchildren and mine will have no choice but to eat amalgamated, irradiated, genetically prostituted, barcoded, adulterated fecal spam from the centralized processing conglomerate."

Not quite short enough for a bumper sticker, but I like the sentiment and it's got a nice lilt to it.

twif, that sound really gross. I know, I know, consider the source, high praise indeed, and the Car Bomb's waste of good whiskey, and on and on.

Keifus said...

Yeah, it's where I first read about it, and then I read slightly more on their website. Shoulda figured you get there before long.

(Poor Michael Pollan, hates science that does stuff but likes it when it understands stuff. But I agree with his verdict. Great quote--we've been doing the wrong stuff for many decades now. I'll be thinking about that ironically on my commute.)

twif said...

@switters: it's a variation on a "skip and go naked" recipe, which (if i remember correctly) is lemonade, beer, sprite/7-up and vodka or gin (depending on taste, i suppose). i might have the proportions wrong though.