PepsiCo's new vice president of brand marketing for Gatorade, Andrea Fairchild, faces a tough challenge to revitalise the sport drink's image in 2010.

PepsiCo said this week that Fairchild will join the firm after a decade at Nike, where she was most recently responsible for growing the company's women's training division.

Gatorade sales have struggled in the last 18 months and her appointment comes as PepsiCo prepares to relaunch the brand with a tighter focus. It is backing the move with a US$30m spend, set to encompass a revamp of ingredients and packaging, as well as marketing.

From 2010, Gatorade will be honed more specifically for athletes. "2010 represents a significant step to evolve through innovation beyond hydration to sports performance and meeting more athlete needs," a PepsiCo spokesperson told just-drinks late last year.

Fairchild has been brought onboard for her experience in this area.

"Andrea's experience and leadership will help her hit the ground running as Gatorade continues to transform from a sports drink to a sports performance innovation company," said Sarah Robb O'Hagan, chief marketing officer for Gatorade.

The brand remains one of PepsiCo's 18 so-called "mega brands". It was the third best selling of these in 2008, with sales of more than US$5bn, and only narrowly behind Mountain Dew in second place, according to PepsiCo's annual report.

Still, Pepsi Americas Beverages reported net sales down 7% in the first six months of 2009 and Gatorade was singled out as a particularly bad performer.

There is a sense that the brand has lost its way. The next year will be critical.