Gatorade Inserts Itself In Great Moments of Sports History

The latest ad for Gatorade, created by TBWA\Chiat\Day, traces its past all the way back to inception, and looks to the future.

Gatorade likely doesn’t contain real lightening bolts but it has electrified some of sports’ greatest moments with its electrolytes, moments that are celebrated in the sports drink’s latest ad. Aptly titled "Lightning Bolt", the spot from TBWA\Chiat\Day traces Gatorade’s history from when it was invented on the fly in a University of Florida Lab in 1965 to modern day, the spot neatly tells the story of Gatorade’s place in iconic sports moments.

Set to the folk-strummy tune "Path of the Lightning Bolt" from emerging artist Jake Bugg, the spot takes us from the Kansas City Chiefs, who were the first professional team to use glass bottles of Gatorade during the game, to Michael Jordan at the 1988 Slam Dunk Contest (sponsored by Gatorade), up to Serena Williams’ leg-splitting move on the tennis court. TBWA\Chiat\Day art director Renato Fernandez says the moments chosen needed to be ones "where Gatorade was actually there and actually played a role. It needed to be legit."

The spot itself, directed by Matthijis Van Heijningen, is a combination of stock footage and original scenes to make it as historically accurate as possible. The initial scenes with the KC Chiefs and New York Giants linebacker Harry Carson were pure stock footage, while shots of Michael Jordan, Dwyane Wade, and Serena Williams were stock footage with Gatorade bottles added organically, and Peyton Manning was shot live for the spot.

While the story of Gatorade’s origins has indeed been told before (a 2006 campaign by now-defunct agency Element 79 delved into the brand’s accidental beginnings), the goal with this spot was to make its "lab-born, game-tested" story relevant to today’s teen athletes. The final tag "Continue the Legend" is paired with a young athlete training for and presumably aspiring to a professional future.

"This was not just a commercial proposition. This is sport history," says group creative director Brent Anderson. "The path of the lightning bolt just happens to travel through some of the most memorable and beloved moments over the past 48 years. The evolution of Gatorade is the evolution of sport."

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  • GarryMendez

    This is a good spot. It's a technical achievement and it places the product nicely, but it doesn't compare to the original 2006 Element 79 spot. Why? Casting.

    The origin story in the 2006 spot was strong because the actual guys (or maybe just actors playing the guys?) who invented the drink were in the spot. 

    Then there's Keith Jackson. Nothing says college football like the voice of Keith Jackson. (I know he's retired now, but when the spot aired he was still doing the Rose Bowl and a few other big match-ups every year.) Hearing his voice makes me want to lace up a pair of cleats and get after it. If you're going to do what is essentially a remake of the original 2006 spot why not hire Brent Musburger to do a voice-over? I guess that's my problem with it. This is neither a remake nor an original spot. You can't straddle that line.

    But hey, who am I kidding? I'm not the market for this spot. If I were a 17-year-old ballplayer contemplating signing a letter of intent for next season, I'd probably see things differently.