Inventor Story: Robert Cade
Gatorade does $5 billion in sales every year. Nike by comparison does $14 million for shoes, apparel and other merchandise. Gatorade only sells its sports drink, making it one of the single most successful sports products. What made Gatorade the success it is?
Dr. Robert Cade was a sports researcher at the University of Florida and in the mid-60′s he and a few colleagues needed to come up with a new drink to help the Florida Gators’ football team replace carbohydrates and electrolytes lost in sweat. They came up with a drink that tasted terrible, so they added some sugar and lemon juice for flavor. What they came up with certainly wasn’t the first sport drink and maybe not even the best.
At the same time, the Florida Gators had as their quarter back Steve Spurrier, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1966, plus a good team. The sports media gave lots of attention to the young quarterback and found out that he was being fueled by a special new drink, called Gatorade. Suddenly there was a huge demand for the drink which launched Gatorade to be the success that it is today.
Would have Gatorade succeeded without Spurrier and a good Gators team? Probably not. It may be a great invention, but without that exposure, it probably would have never taken off.
What can all inventors learn from this story? Having your product associated with success and a celebrity can make the difference in launching your product. Now, finding just any celebrity to support your product is not always a good idea. Some surveys say many consumers are turned off by celebrity endorsements. If you get Michael Jordan to endorse your new bicycle invention, you may not gain any customers and if you paid for the endorsement, you just wasted lots of money. On the other hand, if your invention is used by the college champion bicycle racer in the latest competition, and you can make sure that the media knows about it, you may get lots of new business.
You will want to find people who might get media attention and give them your products. If you have a home type of product, send them to talk show hosts, like Oprah, and if she likes it, you might see your product mentioned on national television. Don’t forget about more local shows that are more likely to mention your product. Although there is lower exposure, it can still make a big difference. Plus having a local connection, the hosts will be more inclined to talk about your product.