Gatorade Celebrates 50 Years in One Ad

Spot Debuting on Christmas Day Captures 50 Classic Sports Moments

By Published on .

How do you celebrate the 50th anniversary of a brand that has been involved in countless classic sporting moments? By cramming 50 of those moments into one 60-second ad.

That's the approach Gatorade took with a TV spot that debuted on Christmas Day marking the beginning of a year that will be packed with anniversary marketing, including new products and packaging.

The ad, by TBWA, begins with a nod to Gatorade's founding in 1965 at the University of Florida. Researchers created the drink as a way to help university athletes replenish electrolytes and carbohydrates. The spot goes on to count to 50, linking each number to a sports moment that has at least some link to Gatorade.

The moments include "four" for Super Bowl IV, representing the first time Gatorade was used in the big game. Later, "21" depicts the first "Gatorade bath" at Super Bowl XXI when New York Giant Harry Carson dumped the drink on the team's coach, Bill Parcells. Other moments show famous Gatorade endorsers, like "24" for tennis star Serena Williams recording her 24th ace in a match, or Gatorade-sponsored events, such as "44" for the 1986 NBA slam dunk contest in which diminutive Spud Webb showed off his 44-inch vertical leap.

The only visual that doesn't include an audible number is "23" for legendary Gatorade endorser Michael Jordan, who wore No. 23. Instead of calling out his jersey number, the ad plays a quick clip of the brand's famous "Be Like Mike" ad.

The brand, which PepsiCo acquired in 2001, has been planning its 50th anniversary effort for more than a year. "You'll see throughout the year a number of programs that hit market that really allows us to celebrate the brand and its history and give a nod to the future," said Gatorade Chief Marketing Officer Morgan Flatley.

The first ad, she said, is a "really special way to look at the past and acknowledge that Gatorade has this incredible role fueling athletes performance over the last 50 years." The spot points forward by showing a modern version of the University of Florida football team as a coach yells, "Fifty more, let's do it again."

Because the moments fly by quickly in the spot, the brand is also releasing an interactive version on its YouTube page that includes a brief description of each image. Also, there are links during the playback that allow viewers to dive deeper into 10 of the moments. For instance, for moment "37," sports radio personality Dan Patrick narrates the story of how in 2006 Steve Gleason, who wore No. 37 for the New Orleans Saints, blocked a punt during the first game held at the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina.

"The YouTube extension allows us to identify every single moment," Ms. Flatley said. Because "no matter how close you are to sports, there are some in there that are a little tricky."

The digital agency on the campaign is VML of Kansas City. The interactive video will get paid digital ad support.

In a version of the spot that was scheduled to air only once, one of the images showed Gatorade employee Martin Nance for moment "15." Mr. Nance, who led the production of the ad, is a former NFL player who wore No. 15 for the Minnesota Vikings. The Gatorade brand team wanted to surprise him with his inclusion, according to a spokeswoman. His image was replaced for all other airings by a shot of the University of Alabama celebrating its 15th national football championship.

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