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  • Writer's pictureArturo Leal

Gatorade: Let's elaborate on that.

Persuasion is a big part of communication whether it is in marketing or in the media. As people go throughout their day, they are bombarded with information that use to form their opinions. It could be something as small as what sports drink is the best or something as large as a political hot topic. One theory of how people process this information is called the elaboration likelihood model.

In this theory, people process information in two different ways; centrally and peripherally. So, the central route is when someone is evaluating the information that is given to them. Let’s say you are at your local gym and a nutritionist is giving a presentation on why you should drink Gatorade when you are training. How and when we receive information is important when we are forming our opinions. Is the information relevant to us? Can we act on it? Is it important to us? If you are working out at the gym these are all probably a yes. Now we start evaluating the presentation. Is the source credible? Can they convey a coherent thought? Does their argument make sense? After all of that, we can form our opinion.

Now, what if you are that person who is dead tired at the end of your workout not paying attention or have your headphones in and can’t hear the presentation? You turn and see someone dressed well holding up a Gatorade and think “I could use one of those right now”. This is the peripheral route; we are making a decision based on surface-level information. The presenter didn’t get to elaborate on why we should choose Gatorade to part of the audience, so they made a decision based on superficial information. If both groups of people made the same decision, why should we put the effort into presenting all the information? Those who have the information made an informed decision and are less likely to change their mind. The others don’t have a strong opinion so can be swayed easily.

Photo Courtesy of Associated Press

If I were pushing Gatorade, I would try to utilize both processing methods. Let’s say we want to increase Gatorade sales and build brand loyalty in Georgia. I would create a thirty-second commercial featuring the Atlanta Falcons first-round draft pick Kyle Pitts. Pitts played at the University of Florida where Gatorade was created so there is a connection between the presenter and brand. Fans will recognize him and those who don’t watch football will still recognize that he is a professional athlete in his uniform giving him credibility. You start the first five seconds of the commercial with Pitts without his helmet drinking Gatorade with the logo visible. Platforms like YouTube will allow viewers to skip a commercial after five seconds so this is the time to target peripheral decision-makers. After that you feature Pitts working out, running routes, and rehydrating. Use a voice-over of him talking about the benefits of the product and why he uses it ending with a logo and catchy slogan. Central decision-makers are evaluating the whole message, they will see that this product meets the needs of a professional athlete, so it will meet their needs and is reinforced by the benefits listed in the voice-over. To appeal to both groups, you need to have a visually appealing message while presenting logical information so the viewer can make an informed decision.

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