Gatorade's target audience loved gaming and was aged 18-34. Gatorade had been involved in gaming since 2006. The brand wanted to mirror the real-life sidelines presence of the iconic Gatorade Cooler and green cups. Based on the success of previous "stadium signage" integrations within basketball games NBA Ballers, NBA2K and NBA Live Gatorade needed to take its brand relevancy to a whole new level through gaming.
Gatorade developed the Gatorade Thirst Meter for the NBA 2K9 game. This new and innovative feature, developed in partnership with 2K Sports and Gatorade, integrated seamlessly with the game's artificial intelligence to recognize when a player was becoming dehydrated and losing energy. The "Gatorade Recommended Substitution" took over to designate which players should hit the bench for a quick Gatorade refill in real time. Once the player was sufficiently hydrated and his energy levels restored, he went back into the action. Dehydrated players who were not subbed out, began to show sluggish performance, indicated by a green Gatorade cup. Additional Gatorade signage, coolers and cups were hard-coded into the stadiums to maintain the true-to-life authenticity.
NBA 2K9 sold more than 1.15m units. Brand research determined that the Gatorade integration created a memorable experience for NBA2K9 gamers. The strong recall levels indicate that frequency of Gatorade's placements positively impacted gamers' awareness of Gatorade's presence in the game. Furthermore, at least three-quarters of these gamers liked the various components of the integration with the Gatorade's Thirst Meter.