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.”