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Powerade's Muscle-Bound Relaunch

August 17, 2001, 12:00 AM EDT

Powerade product relaunch Union Square Tuesday, 08.14.00, 10 AM to 12 PM
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One thing was painfully apparent at Powerade's promotional event in Union Square: 300 pounds of muscle and all the Powerade in the world won't help you pull a truck if the emergency brake is on. But for the relaunch of Coca-Cola's sports drink brand, one of the two spray-painted strongmen in a truck-pulling contest tried his darndest, though he had no success while the other glided past the finish line. Later, when the brake mistake became apparent, a rematch was required between the two men, each of whom was painted by artists from Airbrush Shoppe Etc. to look like one of the seven flavors of Powerade.

The spectacle was part of a morning-long demonstration that included entertainers, athletes and painted models, and attracted an audience of several hundred members of the press and people walking by the busy area.

Produced and publicized by Hope-Beckham, the event consisted of an open-air press conference and thousands of free bottles of the energy drink that were passed out by staffers in color-coordinated body paint. But the emphasis was on the variety of entertainers intended to provide examples of the brand's new slogan, “Very real power,” and on displaying the bright new graphics that will decorate Powerade bottles and be featured in new ad campaigns, which were shown on banners that blanketed the fences, drawn on the pavement by Massivemedia's chalk artists, and airbrushed--in a G-rated fashion--onto models and athletes.

The featured entertainment was the strongman competition, where each of the two men pulled a Mack tractor-trailer down 17th Street. Additionally, the Even Flow Bicycle Stunt Team delivered an enormous copper half-pipe where bikers and skaters--the only performers not in spandex or body paint--flew through the air and performed alarming stunts. The event included an undersized basketball court, where athletes from Harlem's Rucker's Park street basketball league played an exhibition game.

Other entertainment included hip-hop music mixed by DJ Enuff, as well as circus performer Anna Jack, who managed to send nine hula hoops into orbit around her body. There was also a trio that performed double Dutch tricks with a twist: the jumper was on a unicycle. The three were booked by Ivy Supersonic, the same promotions specialist who arranged for the models-cum-airbrush canvases.

--Samantha Melamed

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