Coca-Cola Co.'s Powerade is unveiling a new weapon in its battle against PepsiCo's Gatorade: Seattle Seahawks star Jimmy Graham. And quite possibly, Al Pacino.
Mr. Graham stars in a new ad called "Churn," continuing Powerade's "Just a Kid" campaign that began with an ad earlier this year starring Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose. The new spot compares Mr. Graham's tough upbringing to a "mouse who finds himself drowning in a bucket of cream." Scenes include references to a state-run group home in North Carolina where Mr. Graham spent time as a kid and was "confronted by violence, intimidation and despair," according to the brand.
The voiceover sounds very much like Mr. Pacino, although a Coca-Cola spokeswoman declined to identify the voice.
A few shots later, Mr. Graham is shown playing basketball and football. Those scenes are references to Mr. Graham's stint as a basketball player at the University of Miami and one year as a football player at the school before he was drafted in the NFL.
The voiceover ends by saying: "This mouse was different. He had a fight in him and eventually all that fighting would churn that cream into butter. And he simply climbed out." The tagline "We're all just a kid from somewhere" appears at the end of the spot. Wieden & Kennedy, Portland is handling the campaign.
A similar mouse story was told in the movie "Catch Me if You Can."
A 15-second version of the spot is already running and Powerade will begin airing a 30-second version Monday on TV. On Sunday, the brand and Mr. Graham will share the 60-second version on social media, just as the NFL season gets into full swing.
"Jimmy Graham is one of the most recognizable names in football today, but few people know the obstacles he had to overcome on his path to greatness," Victoria Badiola, senior brand manager for Powerade, said in a statement. "We hope athletes who see this campaign take inspiration from Jimmy's story and realize he, too, was once just a kid from Goldsboro."
The campaign includes an online store where fans can design and buy customized "Just A Kid" apparel. Proceeds going to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
The earlier Derrick Rose ad used the lyrics and voice of rapper Tupac Shakur, who died in 1996.
Powerade finished 2014 as the 14th-largest megabrand in the broadly defined category known as "liquid refreshment beverages" or LRBs, according to Beverage Digest. The brand's market share was flat at 1.7%, with volume up by 0.1%. Powerade's larger competitor, Gatorade, finished the year ranked fifth among LRBs, with share up 0.1 points to 4.6% after volume growth of 3.5%.