“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”
– William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 2.2
No offense to Shakespeare, but I don’t think he ever studied public relations or the value of brand identity. Nor do I think he had to watch the “G” ads. These black and white TV commercials scroll past athletes and pop cultural icons by the likes of Misty May-Treanor, Kerri Walsh, Muhammad Ali, Derek Jeter, the JabbaWockeeZ, Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Michael Jordan and Peyton Manning while an announcer answers the question, “What is G?” “G” is of course “gifted,” “glorious” and “golden.” Duh.
I am sure that you have all guessed correctly that these commercials clearly refer to Gatorade. What else could “gifted,” “glorious” and “golden” mean? And if that wasn’t enough, I know all of America is up-to-date on its pop culture and American history. The JabbaWockeez won MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew, and Tommie Smith and John Carlos are infamous for their salutes protesting racial inequality during the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. And if anything is going to fuel consumption of a sports drink after exhausting physical activity, it is these figures.
In my personal opinion, Gatorade wasted its money on these ads. In no way does this commercial reflect the hydrating, vitamin-filled, flavorful qualities that we have come to identify with the blue-sweating, turbo jet running athletes in its past commercials. And I’m not alone in this line of thinking. John Swansburg wrote in his blog post on Slate, “It’s as if Gatorade execs had thrown everything they’d read was cool these days into a pot and stirred. Viral campaign: check. Hip-hop dance crew: check. Lil Wayne: check. Barack Obama: check.”
Gatorade is a sports drink and its main consumer is athletes. So how do pictures of Obama in a suit or dancers in masks inspire heart pounding activity after which Gatorade is necessary? It doesn’t. Now, I’m not saying its older commercials such as, telling consumers about its conception at the University of Florida or showing athletes performing rigorous activity, were breathtakingly original. But at least we knew what they were when they aired. What is ‘G’?
My friend, Sam, just summed it up like this, “It actually discouraged me from getting Gatorade, because I didn’t want to get anything with just a ‘G’ on it. I didn’t know what it was. So I just got one of the old bottles of Gatorade….But for real are the ‘G’ bottles special Gatorade or normal Gatorade?”