G2 Spot Comes Off as Insensitive to Unemployed

Kevin Garnett Effort May Mean to Inspire, but It Seems Like Mockery

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I was sitting on the couch Sunday night, watching TV with my husband, when I collided with a Gatorade G2 commercial featuring Kevin Garnett. As I watched, I could not believe my eyes or my ears, and rewound live TV (thank God for DVRs; what did we do before these magical things existed?) to watch it all again.

PepsiCo's Gatorade G2 is attempting to show that "everyone can be an athlete." But the real message that's being communicated is that you're simply not doing your best if you've received a pink slip or can't make a mortgage payment.

The recent downturn of our economy has affected nearly everyone. Whatever PepsiCo's intentions, this commercial -- with its melodic, upbeat soundtrack -- comes off less as inspirational and more as a mockery of average Americans as they struggle to find their financial footing and maintain a roof over their heads. Message: Kevin Garnett is rich and famous and doesn't have to swim laps to cope with the fact he's just lost his job. It was the most insensitive and out-of-touch commercial I've seen.

Every news outlet is expending countless amounts of energy reporting on the demise of our financial and housing markets, mass layoffs are growing, and our financial climate is reaching a critical mass of chaos and doom. This was meant to be an inspirational, encouraging commercial showing that if you try hard enough and do your best, well, that's all that truly matters.

Unfortunately, the cruel reality is that isn't always the case. Middle-class Americans, the target for this ad, are finding that out each and every day. Whoever thought up this genius campaign had better be careful, or they might be needing some cardboard to put into their own shoes.

Although average-joe Kevin's swimming workouts release endorphins, he'll never be an elite professional athlete like Kevin Garnett. With his multimillion-dollar contract, I wonder if the Boston Celtics basketball player can still relate to middle-class America. This commercial merely highlights the already wide gap between the "haves" and "have-nots."

As one of the millions who've been laid off, I found this commercial insulting and offensive. Gatorade G2 should be ashamed to give the ad any more airtime.

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Bess Bonewits most recently worked at Q & A Research. She has a B.S. in journalism and a background in market research. She lives with her family in Kansas City.

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