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Gatorade fuels performance and teamwork with ‘Sweat unites us’

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — A basketball game is never just about basketball; more than anything, it’s about shared experiences. It’s about teammates working together, training for hours on end, moving in sync to create moments on the court. It’s about sweating it out with the opposing team and making sure they earn your respect the same way they expect you to earn theirs. It’s about connecting with everyone else around the game, from the referees who make it happen to your friends and family sitting in the audience, chanting your team’s name.

As with any sport, a basketball game is about what unites us as people and how giving more to your team fuels that connection. It’s this universal truth that Gatorade has managed to capture so cleverly with its current campaign, “Sweat Unites Us,” a celebration of how the sports drink enables everyday Filipinos to strengthen their bonds through sports.

Since its launch in March 2024, “Sweat Unites Us” has been a powerful democratizing message for the sports drink, featuring non-professional competitions — known colloquially as liga — at the community level to underscore how giving it our all in sports brings us closer together. By shifting the narrative from professional athletes to grassroots heroes, Gatorade has managed to not only broaden its target audience but also open the doors to more inclusive representation in sports brands as well.


The campaign debuted with a 90-second short telling the story of Janella Alba, a real-life referee, and how she and her peers have found a family on the court:

As she shares her experience, every word Janella says is something pros have said as well, from learning to rely on your teammates to forming a chosen family with them to sharing each other’s highs and lows both on and off the court. Most anyone who’s ever played any form of team sport can relate with what she says, which speaks to the campaign’s inherent resonance. It hits especially hard for the people who join the ligas, who dedicate their time to joining community competitions because that’s when you really have to sweat.

What audiences watch in any liga isn’t like any casual pick-up game with random people. It’s the result of people training together, playing countless games, and forming the kind of bond that is only possible when you sweat together. It’s the fruit of hours upon hours of shared memories, all created through the pursuit of a common goal. It’s the joy of connecting with people who love the same sport, expressing that joy in front of everyone else at the game, and doing it over and over again, for as long as you can sweat. And because Gatorade allows them to sweat more and push harder, the entire experience is made all the more powerful.

By positioning itself as the drink that helps fuel consumers through everything, Gatorade is able to bring itself even closer to the “light competitive” community, a demographic that makes up the majority of the Philippine population. That’s just the beginning — the goal of Gatorade’s push towards its own democratization is to show how the brand is for everyone who enjoys a good sweat, regardless of how they do it.

“Many people still think that Gatorade is only for the ‘pros’ and that they don’t need Gatorade for their level of activity,” said Katrina Suarez, Marketing Lead for Non-Carbonated Drinks at PepsiCo. “What we want to communicate is that Gatorade is for everyone. As long as you want to sweat more and give more to your team, it doesn’t matter if you’re playing pro, at the barangay level, or even just on a Saturday afternoon with your friends — Gatorade is there to help you rehydrate, refuel, and replenish yourself so you can give your all throughout the entire game.”

Telling Janella’s story, Katrina shared, was a deliberate choice given the democratizing aspect of the campaign.

“The intent of featuring a female referee was to communicate that sports is for everybody and that Gatorade is for everybody who is active and sweats,” she said. “We also wanted to show that anybody can contribute and give more to their team, most especially with Gatorade fueling you to give more to your team.”

To emphasize its new community-level approach, Gatorade also launched the “Fueled Liga” program as part of the “Sweat Unites Us” campaign. The program aims to underscore sports’ transformative and unifying power through a series of ligas held in 150 barangays across Luzon. Running from March to July 2024, “Fueled Liga” events feature a mix of sports activities, including basketball and volleyball, that anyone from the community can join, as long as they present a Gatorade tansan (bottle crown) as their ticket to entry. Anyone who wins the challenges at these ligas can take home exclusive Gatorade merch and prizes.

Because ligas are meant to bring people together, Gatorade is also making sure that the “Fueled Liga” events will have a lasting effect on participating communities by also providing minor court refurbishments, such as the installation of new basketball backboards and volleyball nets, so that everyone can continue to play even as the celebrations end.

Over the next few months, “Sweat Unites Us” will start bridging grassroots-level and professional athletes through the “Laking Liga” stories of Gatorade brand ambassadors LA Tenorio, Alyssa Valdez, Eya Laure, and more. Many of the Philippines’ top pro athletes grew up participating in ligas, and they’re more than happy to share their own memories of the liga experience to connect with the community and inspire young athletes who hope to one day make the same jump they did.

Through “Sweat Unites Us,” Gatorade is tapping into something much deeper than a game; it captures the unifying spirit of sports. It talks about how being able to push harder, sweat more, and play better together truly unites us and how Gatorade, by helping us rehydrate, refuel, and replenish what we’ve lost in sweat, fuels that effort. Most importantly, it shows how it doesn’t matter if you’re playing a pro level, joining ligas, or even just casually playing at the barangay court — however we choose to play, what fuels us is that sense of belonging we create with each other through sports.

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