Gatorade takes social media seriously with “mission control center”
PepsiCo brand Gatorade is taking its social media strategy very seriously indeed – so much so that it has built a mission control centre replete with screens beaming out brightly-coloured visualisations of what people are saying about it on the likes of Twitter.
According to an interview with Mashable, the Mission Control Center was custom built with the help of IBM and Radian7. The room, in the centre of Gatorade’s marketing department, contains six big monitors depicting real-time events in the social media ether.
One screen is a representation of the tweets relevant to Gatorade, be they about the brand, its athletes, its competitors, or sports nutrition-related subjects. Another tracks and measures conversations across the blogosphere and allows Gatorade to conduct ‘sentiment’ analysis around key topics and on product and campaign launches.
The brand is clearly proud of the initiative and has produced a video/ad flaunting its social media savvy and focusing on the Mission Control Center.
It’s impressive, and expertly edited, stuff; and on the surface it’s encouraging that a brand is taking social media so seriously. But how deep does it run?
According to senior marketing bod Carla Hassan, pretty deep. The brand recently ran a TV ad featuring a song by rap artist David Banner. It quickly got people talking online, and the brand was instantly able to witness that at Mission Control. So Gatorade decided to exploit the chatter. Within 24 hours it had worked with Banner to produce a full-length version of the music track, which it then distributed to Gatorade followers and fans on Twitter and Facebook.
The brand uses the centre on a day-to-day basis for more mundane – but no less important – digital marketing tasks, such as optimising landing pages and ensuring that followers are linked to the best-performing pages. The company says it has managed to increase engagement with its ‘product education’ by 250% and cuts its exit rate down from 25% to 9%.
Hassan said that one of the main goals of Mission Control Center us to “take the largest sports brand in the world and turn into the largest participatory brand in the world”. Big words and an interesting concept: a massive, seemingly cumbersome global brand watching and talking to individuals – with loads of really cool screens.
Already, during the last Super Bowl, Gatorade has made moves in this direction. During the event it allowed fans and followers to interact with NFL stars though Ustream as they tested out the new Gatorade G Series Pro. It has also let fans post questions to a sports nutritionist through Ustream and Facebook.
The Mission Control Center is still something of an experiment, according to PepsiCo’s director of social media, Bonin Bough. “We believe that what we’re building here is an example of a sandbox or tools and processes that we can use across the organisation,” he says.
Experiment or not, it’s interesting to see a global brand owner at least appearing to take social media very seriously indeed.
Having it all in one place like this makes a real statement. It also provides a focus for the rest of the business to show how important social marketing has become. Competitors will no doubt take note.