Gatorade Mission Control is a slick, glass-walled room glowing with the light of six huge, wall-mounted monitors. Other monitors and workstations cover a single curved desk, where as many as five marketing staffers keep their eyes glued to Gatorade’s place in the social media conversation, in real-time. One monitor charts tweets referencing the Gatorade brand and trending topics. Another shows several line charts tracking blog mentions of Gatorade as well as three rival brands.
The displays, custom designed for Gatorade parent company PepsiCo by IBM and Radian6, are visually impressive. But are they helping the company manage?
Gatorade’s Carla Hassan, senior marketing director for consumer & shopper engagement, answers an emphatic yes. For instance, she told Mashable’s Adam Ostrow that in monitoring response to its “Gatorade has evolved” campaign, Mission Control quickly saw heavy social media buzz developing around a song by rap artist David Banner. Within 24 hours, the company had worked with Banner to release a full-length version of the song, and distribute it to Gatorade followers and fans on Twitter and Facebook.
Gatorade’s tools are being used to tailor websites and landing pages to its top performing topics and videos, based on social media conversations. As a result, the company increased engagement with its videos by 250%, and reduced landing-page exit rate from 25% to 9%.
I’d also suggest that merely establishing a command center highlights the importance of social media within a business – making it more fun, more engrossing, and more likely to percolate into the culture of the company as a whole.
Hassan says the goal of Mission Control is to “take the largest sports brand in the world and turn it into largest participatory brand in the world.”
To that end, Gatorade isn’t just monitoring the conversation, but participating in it as well. The company hosts events on Ustream and Facebook in which a sports nutritionist answers questions from fans. During the 2010 Super Bowl, Gatorade invited fans to interact with some of its NFL stars through Ustream, as they tested the new Gatorade G Series Pro drink.
If successful, the Mission Control strategy is likely to spread to other businesses within PepsiCo, according to Bonin Bough, director of global social media at the company. “We believe what we’re building here is an example of a sandbox of tools and processes we can use across the organization.”
Check out this video of Mission Control in action. If you’re a social-media geek worth your salt, you, like me, will want one of your own!