You enter a room equipped with monitors and laptops. On the screens you see what any person in the world is posting about your brand in this very moment. Bubble, line and bar charts summarize even the tiniest comment made on Facebook and dashboards provide you with all the necessary means to take immediate action.
Gatorade constructed such a room in April 2010. It is called the Mission Control.
After repositioning the brand in 2009, Gatorade experienced some difficult times. Enough reason for Gatorade’s Sr. Marketing Director, Consumer & Shopper Engagement Carla Hassan to launch the so-called Mission Control at its Chicago headquarter.
The Mission Control is a room located in the marketing department. It is equipped with six big monitors allowing four full-time employees to follow 24 hours a day what is going on in social media. Staff from both PepsiCo and external marketing agencies use the installations. However, the dashboards can also be accessed from regular desktop computers.
According to a video published by PepsiCo on YouTube (click on the picture to watch the clip), the Mission Control allows staffers to:
- Monitor online discussions
- Track sports trends and buzz
- Track brand attributes
- Monitor sports landscape
- Track media performance
- Proactive social media outreach
The custom-built Mission Control was developed in collaboration with IBM, Radian6 and Struck. It allows to follow conversations by tracking keywords related to Gatorade, its competitors, the sports drink industry and even sponsored athletes.
The software automatically ranks first messages of persons loyal to the brand, individuals who have numerous followers, and “people whose opinions tend to get picked up“¹.
For an interview with Gatorade’s Sr. Marketing Director, Consumer & Shopper Engagement Carla Hassan please click here.
But did Mission Control actually achieve some concrete results or is it just a fancy control center?
shoppernewsblog identified four examples where Gatorade was able to take action based on information retrieved from social media:
- Correcting potentially damaging rumors
Employees instantly corrected a post on Facebook which stated that Gatorade would have high-fructose corn syrup. This immediate response prevented a false rumor from spreading and avoided any potential harm to the brand’s image.
- Detecting trends
When Gatorade launched its “Gatorade has evolved” campaign, staff of the Mission Control noticed a large amount of posts asking for the artist of the song. Within 24 hours they were able to record a full-length tune which was then distributed to Gatorade followers on Facebook and Twitter.
- Analyzing consumer behavior
Mission Control also allows staff to analyze “how long consumers who click on banner ads stay on Gatorade’s website, how often someone who searches for “protein drink” clicks on a link for Gatorade Recover and how the new products fare with influential groups“¹.
- Fill rate and out-of-stock problems
Employees observing the events on their monitors noticed customers complaining about sold-out products. They immediately communicated this internally to increase production in order to meet the unexpected demand.
By October 2010, cloudave.com reported “(t)he team has had more than 2,000 one-on-one conversations with consumers, while the brand’s likes on Facebook have skyrocketed to 1.2 million, reaching the 1 million milestone a full five months ahead of schedule”³. The article states further, “Mission Control is credited with increasing mentions of G Series Pro..[Gatorade product] by 9 percent on Facebook and Twitter”.
Nevertheless, Gatorade still faces fierce competition from its main competitor Powerade who does not employ a social media strategy of similar scope.
On YouTube, Mission Control’s clip received some 92,825 clicks. The video received a total of 24 comments, 8 from professionals and another 12 from customers who are divided on whether Mission Control is a tool to improve communication or a form of Orwell-like supervision. 4 comments were erased.
However, Gatorade did not participate in the conversation.
Final remark: By the time you read this article, employees of Mission Control will already have noticed the existence of this post, estimated its potential influence on the online community, and evaluated its potential effect on Gatorade´s brand image.
What do you think about Gatorade’s Mission Control?
Do you think it helps to improve communication with customers or is it an intrusive way of participating in social media?
Please share your opinion with us by commenting on this post below.