First in Thirst: How Gatorade Turned the Science of Sweat Into a Cultural Phenomenon

First in Thirst: How Gatorade Turned the Science of Sweat Into a Cultural Phenomenon

by Darren Rovell
     
 

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"Remember the Cola Wars, with Coke and Pepsi battling it out year after year for supremacy in the soft drink market? Or what about the Burger Wars, the legendary slugfests between McDonald’s and Burger King?

Then of course, there were the Sports Drink Wars. If you blinked, you might have missed them, because Gatorade has swiftly and decisively fended

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Overview

"Remember the Cola Wars, with Coke and Pepsi battling it out year after year for supremacy in the soft drink market? Or what about the Burger Wars, the legendary slugfests between McDonald’s and Burger King?

Then of course, there were the Sports Drink Wars. If you blinked, you might have missed them, because Gatorade has swiftly and decisively fended off every would-be rival. Although a few other brands hold slim market shares, the fact is that Gatorade single-handedly created the sports drink industry 40 years ago and has absolutely ruled it ever since.

But Gatorade is more than just a triumph of branding. First, it’s a trusted product that has been scientifically proven to do what it claims to do.

Second, Gatorade is an enthralling story, brought to life in bright color and sharp detail in First in Thirst. Author Darren Rovell, a skilled, objective, and passionate journalist, chronicles every astonishing milestone of the company’s history.

With unprecedented access to the inventors, the marketers, the analysts and observers, and key company figures past and present, Rovell recounts the sweat-drenched University of Florida football practices, the first (unpalatable) prototypes, and the commercial and financial interest that quickly took hold following the drink’s first on-field successes. Then came the advertising, sponsorships, product placements (many of them fortuitous), and finally the two milestones that cemented Gatorade’s iconic status once and for all — the ubiquitous Gatorade bath and the Michael Jordan "Be Like Mike" endorsement deal.

With refreshing candor, First in Thirst also offers an inside look at the negotiations, battles, lawsuits, mergers and acquisitions, product strategies, lucky breaks, and even the missteps (there have not been many) that have attended Gatorade’s reign as the 800-pound gorilla of the sports-drink scene. Rovell places the reader inside labs and brainstorming sessions, at board meetings and ad shoots, on the sidelines and in the dugouts, even in the winner’s circle at NASCAR events — where Gatorade manages maximum exposure even at tracks whose official sponsors include chief rival POWERade.

The book identifies the nine Gatorade Rules, business principles that have helped Gatorade become one of the most dominant brands ever. By adhering to these principles, businesses in other industries may achieve greater brand recognition and market share.

Long before America knew what "deep-down body thirst" was, a team of university scientists had already invented something to quench it. First in Thirst is the story of the product and the company, and of America’s fascination with the one and only Gatorade."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Selected as one of Soundview Executive Book Summaries's the "30 Best Business Books" of the year.

Publishers Weekly: "...an account wide in scope, rich in details and sufficiently varied to keep the pages turning."

Beverage Digest: "[A] new book by ESPN business reporter Darren Rovell provides fascinating insights into original development — and sale — of Gatorade."

Yahoo! Sports: "[A] fascinating new book.[Author] Rovell does an excellent job keeping a business story moving by interweaving plenty of sports and bigger picture ideas into First in Thirst. There is enough here for the businessperson, the sports fan and anyone who loves a story about how one small, simple idea could become so big."

Dallas Morning News, Steve Powers, nationally syndicated columnist: "It’s a lively book rich in detail."

Business Ledger (Oak Brook, IL): "...an engrossing read...the book is captivating."

BrandChannel.com: "A good read about a product’s ups and downs for those into sports, business, or supposed hangover cures."

Mississippi Business Journal: "...a fascinating business story."

Detroit Free Press: "He [Rovell] writes a fascinating chronicle of how Gatorade’s superb marketing overcame obstacles."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780814410950
Publisher:
AMACOM
Publication date:
09/02/2005
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.55(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Given its prominence and brand equity, it's amazing we've had to wait until now to read the story about the domination of Gatorade. Darren Rovell will quench your thirst by deftly weaving the tale from its humble beginnings to its extraordinary market share and iconic brand status."

— David Stern, Commissioner, National Basketball Association

"Without Darren Rovell's First In Thirst, how would I know there was once a Gatorade called ‘ESPN the Flavor’? At last I understand how Chris Berman and Stuart Scott race through exhausting highlight packages without becoming dehydrated."

— Bob Costas, Broadcaster, NBC and HBO

"The story of Gatorade's wild success was just waiting to be told, and Darren Rovell is the perfect person to tell it. First in Thirst is a business book and a marketing book and a zeitgeist book, but most of all it's just a terrific book to read."

— Stephen J. Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.

"First In Thirst chronicles why Gatorade has become the 'oral imperative' for athletes just like spinach was for Popeye."

— Joseph R. Castiglione, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, University of Oklahoma

"Well dump a bucket of green juice over my head! What a great insider's look at the building of a brand that people believe in."

— Seth Godin, author, All Marketers Are Liars

"Being first, picking a shocking name and using liberal quantities of PR are the three rules of brand building. Darren Rovell tells the fascinating story of one brand that did all three exceptionally well."

— Al Ries and Laura Ries, co-authors, The Origin of Brands"

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Meet the Author

Darren Rovell has been reporting on sports business since 1998. Since June 2000 he has served as ESPN.com’s sports business reporter. He also appears on numerous ESPN radio affiliate shows and on ESPNews, and contributes to ESPN’s flagship Sports Center, its investigative Outside the Lines shows, and ESPN2’s morning show Cold Pizza. In 2004, Rovell was named to Newsbios’ 30 under 30, a list of the top 30 national business reporters under 30. He is the co-author of On the Ball: What You Can Learn About Business from America’s Sports Leaders.

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