Of all the traditions, American football fans have come to expect on Super Bowl Sunday is the “Gatorade Dunk” that awaits the head coach of the winning team as time expires.
The surprise sports drink bath at the end of the Super Bowl has been a massive marketing coup for Gatorade for 30 years. Since 1987, 20 of 30 Super bowls have featured a Gatorade dunk by the victorious team. Those 20 dunks have generated more than $17 million (about £13.7 million) through television, radio, social media and other channels.
The tradition started during the 1986 NFL season when New York Giants line-backer Harry Carson started pouring coolers of Gatorade over the head of head coach Bill Parcells after wins.
The first-ever championship Gatorade dunk occurred in January 1987 after the Giants triumphed over the Denver Broncos during the Super Bowl with an end score of 39-20.
Even though it started from chance, the Gatorade bath has become a signature of the Super Bowl. Gatorade, owned by dominate brand Pepsi, controls 70%-80% of the market, dominating competitors like Powerade and BodyArmour. The brand has also sponsored several sport leagues and companies like the NFL, MLB and NBA.
Brett O’Brien, senior vice president and general manager of the Gatorade brand commented:
While I wasn’t with Gatorade at the time that the dunk began to pick up speed, I’ve heard from long-time employees that there was some debate about how to handle the astounding publicity windfall, whether to encourage it or just let it be on its own. I am really happy we have all decided to celebrate it through the years, as it’s a great expression of pure joy in sports after such extremely hard work throughout a season.