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6 minutes read

With Turf Finder, We Aim To Make Sports More Accessible & Create A Culture Of Play In India: Ankit Agarwal

In his interaction with Marketing Mind, Ankit Agarwal, Associate Director- Energy and Hydration, PepsiCo India, opened up on Gatorade’s Turf Finder- an initiative launched by the brand in partnership with Leo Burnett, the purpose and insight behind the same and how it would help the sports hydration brand in becoming the ‘obvious choice’ in the long run and more.

| Published on April 17, 2024

Developed in 1965 by a team of researchers at University of Florida lab and produced and marketed by Stokely-Van Camp, Gatorade as a brand was acquired by the Quaker Oats Company in 1983.

However, it was when PepsiCo acquired the Quaker Oats Company in 2000 that Gatorade found its place in the Multinational’s portfolio of products and over the past more than two decades became almost ‘synonymous’ to sports globally.

That being said, the sports hydration brand came to India in 2004 and most recently made headlines for promoting the love and will for playing sports amidst the hustle and bustle of India’s metropolitan cities via its ongoing ‘Turf Finder’ initiative, for which it has partnered with its Creative AOR Leo Burnett.

Speaking to Marketing Mind, Ankit Agarwal, Associate Director- Energy and Hydration, PepsiCo India, mentioned that since Gatorade, globally as well as in India, is on a mission to make sports more accessible for people, this time around the brand partnered with Google Maps to analyse data going back to almost 15 years to understand what are the places or what are the times when the roads are empty to drop a turf and provide people a space to play.

“When we were growing up we used to have open parks or playgrounds to go down to and play despite our parents telling us to focus on studies. But today, the times have changed and the parents are pushing the kids to go out and play sports or include sports in one’s lifestyle. Having said that, what has also happened is that there are very limited places to play, especially in the mega cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Gurgaon, Mumbai, etc. and whatever spaces these cities had for playing in the past, especially around residential societies, have now been occupied by parking lots, buildings, offices, etc. leaving no space left for one to play in,” he lamented.

With this, he also pointed out that while there are a few parks and sports grounds in existence today, they usually aren’t around residential societies and hence require one to drive in order to get there which is typically why people who used to play sports earlier in the day have also begun to make excuses like having no space to play in, having a busy lifestyle, etc.

“The insight behind launching the Turf Finder initiative was that even if one’s city is a busy one, at the end of the day it is his or her city and it will give the individual the time and place to play. Hence, we thought that what if people cannot come to the playground to play, we can figure out a way to give them a space to play by getting modular turf to them. And then, we realised that people were really keen to come and play,” he said.

Sharing his views on the initiative, Rajdeepak Das, CCO, Publicis Groupe- South Asia & Chairman, Leo Burnett- South Asia, also said, “This is a true HumanKind idea where we are using technology to find solutions for modern day problems. Our cities are temporal in nature, they behave different by day and different by night. We have validated this spirit and used historic Google Maps data to find empty spaces at specific times which can be made into a turf. The most exciting part is that this campaign can be scaled across the country and not only promote an active lifestyle but also make a cultural impact in communities making sport an equalizer.”

During the course of the interaction, PepsiCo’s Agarwal also mentioned that the deal behind Gatorade launching Turf Finder initiative is rooted in the fact that the brand is on a mission to give access of sports to more and more people and let them enjoy the benefits of it first hand as sports is not just a medium to stay fit. It helps one learn various kinds of skills ranging from working in a team, handling wins and losses, leadership, etc.

“Our idea is to get sports to people and create a culture of playing sports in India,” he said.

While the brand had launched this initiative earlier in February this year with its first turf debuting in Mumbai, Gatorade is now expanding the same to cities like Kolkata, Delhi and Bangalore.

On the Sunday that went by, Gatorade dropped its second modular turf in Delhi at Chandni Chowk. The city witnessed its first turf drop earlier in March in Lajpat Nagar, and is likely to witness another turf drop soon.

Being committed to finding people places to play, wherever and whenever space permits in the city, the brand has included sports such as Basketball, Cricket, Football and Badminton as of now but is open to including others as well in the future and witnessed at least 35-40 people being present on or around its turf at any given point in time.

For those wondering if these turfs are going to be placed at one spot for a prolonged time, the brand has come up with a modular turf that is not just easy to set up but also easy to wind up and shift to another location in a short period of time.

“The turfs that we are dropping for this initiative are modular turfs and hence it doesn’t take a lot of time to get them assembled and reassembled. It usually takes an hour and a half to assemble them and an hour to reassemble them and all of the other equipment that we use are also portable,” Agarwal said.

Commenting on whether the initiative would only run in Tier-I cities, he also mentioned that the case is such mainly because it’s mainly the metropolitan cities which have a scarcity of recreational space.

As for the promotional activities for the Turf drops, the brand is leveraging some bit of influencer marketing but is mainly resorting to sending out flyers and announcing the Turf drop on Social Media so that people are aware of the move.

“Our idea with this initiative is to make sure that people have more access to sports because the purpose of Turf Finder is to celebrate and promote sports. And while there isn’t any direct correlation of this initiative with Gatorade’s sales, with more and more people playing sports and sweating it out, the brand is likely to become the obvious choice in the long run,” he said.

Furthermore, he also added, “Gatorade has consistently championed the importance of fitness and an active lifestyle as integral components of well-being. However, in today’s fast-paced and chaotic society, finding both time and a suitable space for physical activity poses a significant challenge. We firmly believe that this initiative will make sport accessible to a lot more people, thereby cultivating a healthier lifestyle. By providing convenient and inviting spaces for play, we hope to inspire communities to embrace the intrinsic value of staying active amidst the demands of modern life.”

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