Gatorade on Monday released a new Serena Williams ad that appears to show the tennis star cradling her nearly three-month-old baby. The digital spot, aimed at encouraging girls to stay in sports, would have marked an exceptionally early acting debut for young Alexis Olympia, if it actually included her. But it turns out that the brand had to arrange for a baby body double at the last minute.
"While Serena intended to have Olympia make her screen debut as part of this film, her daughter was under the weather and unable to be on set, but the sentiment remains the same," a Gatorade spokeswoman said in an email. (The identity of the stand-in baby was not immediately available.)
Williams and her husband, Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, have not been shy about putting their daughter in the spotlight. Just two weeks after the Sept. 1 birth, Ohanian posted a YouTube video featuring behind-the-scenes shots of Williams' pregnancy, beginning with an ultrasound and ending with footage of the baby leaving the hospital after six days. The video as of Monday had nearly 2.7 million views. Alexis Olympia even has her own Instagram account with 133,000 followers.
The Gatorade ad is by TBWAChiatDay. The brand used used women's style and lifestyle site Refinery29 for research. In the spot, Williams is portrayed as addressing her newborn. "I won't mind if you play tennis badly. I won't mind if you never choose to pick up a racquet," she says. "But I beg you in this game of life please keep playing."
The ad is part of a new campaign called "Sisters in Sweat" that encourages girls to keep playing sports, even if they don't have professional ambitions. According to PepsiCo-owned Gatorade, by the age of 14, girls drop out of sports at 1.5 times the rate of boys. But girls who keep playing sports are "healthier, happier and more successful later in life," according to the brand. "One of the primary reasons girls drop out of sport is because they don't see a future in sport and believe their time is better spent preparing for their future in other ways," according to Gatorade and Refinery29.
The spot closes with photos of successful women from their sports-playing days, including actress Allison Williams, Teen Vogue Editor-in-Chief Elaine Welteroth, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and Refinery29 co-founder Piera Gelardi.
The ad got a Twitter shout out Monday from PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi.
We can all learn from @serenawilliams advice to her daughter, and I share this advice with my own daughters: In this game of life, keep playing no matter what. Please join me, @Gatorade and Serena to make sure girls know why it's important to stay in sports. #SistersInSweat pic.twitter.com/ZfGWB1vb0X— Indra Nooyi (@IndraNooyi) November 20, 2017