With age comes some small degree of self-awareness. As I bumble through the third decade of my adolescence, I know that I’m more likely to be set off by a misfiring garage-door clicker or hearing songs I’ve long loved in CVS than I am by actual injustices. I know that I’m likely to derive more satisfaction from my annual call to the cable company, in which I threaten to cut the cord until the retention agent tires of my bluster and cuts me a deal, than I am from professional achievements. I’m totally like that “know thyself” guy, though less inclined to record my big important smartythoughts for the ages. Never accuse this fellow of living an unexamined life. Wait, is that the ice-cream truck? Ice cream! L8R!
Still, I wonder how many brands -- specifically, how many brands using video to reinforce identities forged long ago -- are quite as gallant, brave, enlightened, thoughtful and special as I am. Along those lines, I call your attention to Gatorade and its oft-stated self-identification as restorative manna for elite athletes.
This, of course, is patently ridiculous. Gatorade is sugar water. Anyone making claims to the contrary is either in Gatorade’s employ or intellectually and nutritionally challenged. And that’s fine. I love me some Gatorade sugar water, especially the red one. It provides satisfactory after-exercise refreshervescence in those instances where water-water is unavailable. Hypothetically, Gatorade has excellent secondary utility as a hangover balm, especially when -- again, extremely hypothetically -- you don’t want to face the shame that comes with bogarting your toddler’s emergency cache of Pedialyte.
So why does Gatorade continue on this for-sweatyfolk-only kick in its every morsel of marketing? While nobody succeeds nowadays with all-things-to-everyone outreach -- well, except that delightful Taylor Swift lady -- no sane brand would go out of its way to create a hierarchy of potential customers. Yet that’s what Gatorade does in its flatly unfunny series of “Sweat It to Get It” clips, which debuted this week.
Taken from unstaged footage -- wink, wink -- captured by a real convenience store’s security cameras -- wink wink wink wink wink wink wink -- the clips feature a sales clerk, Peyton Manning and Cam Newton thwarting a procession of dry-shirted goobers from purchasing Gatorade. In one, Manning prevents a sale by winging a bottle across the store. In another, Manning refuses to unlock the fridge unit housing the Gatorade. In a third, Manning and the clerk talk a hungover birthday gal into doing some yoga, in the hope it’ll stimulate a few tricklets of back sweat.
There are five more of these, each pounding the same joke into the ground and each hitting the marketing verbiage -- “electrolytes” especially -- way too hard. The unassuming would-be Gatorade purchasers don’t do much of a job in the role of unwitting dupes, either, alternately underreacting to the situation or overreacting to Manning. If you believe anything here is spontaneous, then please accept PepsiCo’s recommendation that serving Gatorade at your next state dinner wouldn’t be the slightest bit gauche.
But the greatest sin of “Sweat It to Get It” is that it wastes the comic gifts of Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning is always funny, except sometimes in the Super Bowl; the guy’s got the best comic deadpan this side of Andre Braugher. These clips, however, assume that his presence alone elevates a one-note bit into viral nirvana. They might as well flash an APPLAUSE sign when he enters at the end of each installment. Peyton Manning as a 21st-century Kramer -- like you wouldn't watch?