Gatorade is the quintessential American sports drink. Or at least it pays to be—you’d be hard-pressed not to see its contents being poured over the head of any winning coach in a well-tread “surprise” splash. Also, it’s a great remedy for a hangover.
But retired NBA star Kobe Bryant is coming for Gatorade’s salty-sweet ass.
Bryant, who reps and has a one-third stake in sports drink BodyArmor, has written and co-directed a series of commercials that debut today, and the tagline says it all: “Thanks Gatorade. We’ll take it from here.”
The ads feature athletes doing “old” things: New York Knick Kristaps Porzingis writing a letter to his parents to be delivered by carrier pigeon; Dallas Wings guard and Roc Nation beauty Skylar Diggins-Smith leading a decidedly ’80s step aerobics class; Houston Rocket and budding fashion icon James Harden entering the arena from olden times; and baseball player Mike Trout using an ab exerciser from the 1970s.
“At the end of the day, we’ve seen so many things in sports evolve—from training to equipment to uniforms,” said BodyArmor founder and CEO Mike Repole, who sold Glacéau, maker of VitaminWater and SmartWater, to Coca-Cola for $4.1 billion in 2007, according to ESPN. “How does it make sense to have the same exact sports drink we had 50 years ago? Athletes are more sophisticated than they have ever been. They train year-round, they have chefs and they read labels.
“When I teamed up with Kobe, I thought I was getting an elite basketball player with great vision,” Repole added. “I wound up with an Oscar winner who has his fingerprints all over our creative that we deeply benefited from. He invested his money to be part of the brand versus an endorsement deal. He was in when we had 20 million in sales, so consider him a co-founder.”
BodyArmor and Gatorade have gone hard in the paint before. ESPN reports that last May, the National Advertising Division was called in by Gatorade when BodyArmor started running adds that said it didn’t use artificial colors or sweeteners, which Gatorade took to be a direct shot at its company.
BodyArmor agreed to discontinue those adds and also to delete links on social media which said, “Gatorade is garbageade,” along with images of athletes dumping out bottles of the competitor’s product.