Months from retirement, a just-on-this-side-of-40 Michael Jordan squares off for a little one-one-one with the version of himself who is still winning rings with the Bulls. As phosphorescent Gatorade sweat flows, the aging superstar and his younger self trash talk each other and trade buckets. An astounding technical feat that has to be fully seen to be appreciated -- James Cameron’s Digital Domain handled all the special effects in this spot by Element 79 -- the Gatorade spot also presaged MJ’s transition from indomitable athlete to full-time pitchman.
Elements of the theme were reprised years later by Porsche when it pit Muhammad Ali, Maria Sharapova and world chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen against themsleves in a campaign for its 911.
This was Gatorade’s first Super Bowl ad, and it debuted at a time when the company boasted a jaw-dropping 80% market share, a dominance matched only by eBay and the Apple iPod. The brand didn't come back to the Super Bowl until it was time to introduce a big line extension in 2008 ("G2").
It was also another Super Bowl spot directed by Joe Pytka, who was responsible for the same game's Sony ad in the fourth quarter ("The Trip") as well as innumerable other Super Bowl ads such as Nike's 1990 "Announcers," Pepsi's 1996 "Goldfish" and FedEx's 2000 "Delivery for Oz."
Element 79 was created by Omnicom Group in 2001 to manage the massive PepsiCo business, including Gatorade, though much of the work departed in 2008. Omnicom merged Element 79 into DDB Chicago in 2012.
This is a minute-long version of the 30-second spot that ran during Super Bowl XXXVII.
Production company: Pytka.
Executive creative director: Dennis Ryan. Creative director/art director: Geoff Edwards. Creative director/copywriter: Jon Flannery. Group creative directors: Danny Schuman, Joe Burke. Senior producers: Rob Jaeger, Jeff Felter.
Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors. Editor: Angus Wall.
AGENCY: Element 79 Partners
QUARTER AIRED: Q1