Now THIS Is Real-Time Marketing

f1554450-6d70-11e5-b590-bdfae51969f9_Screen-Shot-2015-10-07-at-8-58-32-PM Gatorade​ must be doing a victory dance in the aftermath of the Chicago Cubs/Pittsburgh Pirates Wild Card playoff game October 7. The sports beverage company is enjoying an avalanche of PR and user-generated marketing created when Pirate Sean Rodriguez pummeled a Gatorade cooler in the dugout during the game. I don’t think Gatorade needs to capitalize on the moment, either (in fact, doing so could put the brand in the dangerous position of celebrating at the expense of an athlete and Pirates fans). The brand already did the heavy lifting by being the official sports drink beverage for Major League Baseball, thus creating its own luck. Now Gatorade can let fans and influencers continue to create authentic marketing and PR.

The one-sided boxing match between Rodriguez and the Gatorade jug occurred in the seventh inning, after Rodriguez was ejected from the game for participating in a bench-clearing spat on the field. With the Pirates on the verge of being eliminated from the playoffs, Rodriguez took out his frustrations on a Gatorade cooler with breathtaking passion and fury — conveniently captured on television. My social feeds exploded with memes and articles making light of Rodriguez’s temper tantrum. Here are but a few of the memes that made their way around the digital world in real time:

12122775_1708247396062160_4989769455762429953_n Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 8.28.04 AM The news media coverage included stories from ESPN, USA Today, WGN, and Yahoo! Sports, which published a parody interview with the water cooler. And in the grand tradition of real-time commentary, Gatorade cooler parody Twitter accounts told their own side of the story. Around the world, Gatorade enjoyed a sharp increase in search popularity during the evening as shown by Google Trends:

Gatorade has been an official supplier of sports drinks to big-time brands for years. It has become a football tradition (and TV cliche) for players to douse their coaches with Gatorade after major victories. Make no mistake: Gatorade pays for all the product placements that occur when TV cameras capture the image of a Gatorade jug on the sidelines, at courtside, or in a dugout. Gatorade received a big return on its investment on October 7 thanks to one baseball player turned boxer.