“Never Lose the Love” Inspires Us to Lead a Better Life

I haven’t been inspired by much lately in advertising, until this week. No, I’m not talking about Nike’s new #AlwaysBelieve ad after the Cavaliers’ win, but when this ad (below) started, I thought it might be a Nike ad. It wasn’t. Instead, I was impressed and moved by Gatorade’s new “Never Lose the Love” ad, created by agency TBWA \ CHIAT \ DAY \ LA.

Gatorade gets back to why so many of us loved sports to begin with–they’re fun. They’re fun to play and fun to watch.

Lately, though, professional sports has become more about the gobs of money athletes make, and the high cost of tickets has shut out many true sports fans who have remained loyal for so many winning or losing years. Professional sports–and even college sports–are fraught with controversy and crime, and crime that turns into controversy.

My own lifetime love for watching sports has dwindled as games, especially during playoffs and finals seem rigged for TV ratings (read “cash”), and athletes in different sports test positive for performance-enhancing drugs or cheat in other ways. The line in the sand for me was drawn when alleged rapist Jameis Winston received the Heisman Award and then a $25 million contract as starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sports seems to have forgotten sportsmanship.

As sports has become all about business, the love has disappeared–from fans and even from players. The humanity of it has eroded as well.

What has Gatorade done?

Gatorade gave us something we can’t resist, something we forget sometimes on our career paths, no matter what we choose–dreams. As the background music (Jimmy Durante’s Young at Heart) says:

“Fairy tales do come true, they can happen to you, if you’re young at heart…”

That’s why this one commercial has such widespread appeal. We all–even athletes making hundreds of millions of dollars–need to be reminded of who we were and how we felt as kids. Remember approaching the world with wide-open eyes, excited about anything new?

Possibilities were infinite, dreams still gave us a sense of hope for our future, and we always took advantage of opportunities to play and have fun.

The best never lose that love.

Gatorade ends their commercial with those words onscreen–the best never lose that love. And it’s true. This isn’t just an advertisement, it’s almost a self-help reminder. The best in most professions still approach each day with the energy they did in childhood.

One of my favorite parts though is when track star Usain Bolt is in the blocks ready to run and his child self is in front of him saying “Wow, how amazing is this!”

screen grab of video with Usain Bolt facing his child self on track

Sometimes we get so tied down by the work, the sheer amount of it or routine of it and we forget about why we chose this profession in the first place. Gatorade is encouraging us not to let hard work obscure the gratitude and the wonder of it all.

They even go a step further and highlight each athlete in separate videos, in which they talk about their childhood and how they became star athletes. You can check out the short video stories of Usain Bolt, Serena Williams and April Ross. Each one urges you to help “fuel the love forward” and sends you to Gatorade’s For the Love of Sports page where you can vote to choose a charity you think Gatorade should support.

This is basically “feel good” advertising at its best, and connecting us to this sort of humanity is exactly what we need right now. Go check it out.





Real, Nike-Style Advertising Helps Dick’s Elevate Their Game

As two sporting goods chains (Sports Authority, Sports Chalet) fade away, another seems to get stronger and stronger. Dick’s Sporting Goods keeps opening new stores and is catching my attention with their Nike-like ads that resonate and inspire.

I just read this fantastic article on the effectiveness of empowering ads. Though it specifically looked at how empowering women in advertising generates more responses and interaction, I’d say the same holds true for any empowering ad with any audience. One of the points that author Susan Wojcicki makes is:

Empowering ads don’t just generate impressions, they leave impressions.

In other words, they have staying power, which can often translate to buying and increased word-of-mouth. Dick’s recent advertising definitely leaves an impression. Let’s start with their “Contenders” ad:

If this doesn’t inspire you, bring a tear to your eyes or bring any emotion up inside you, then the advertising business is not for you (and your heart might be just a little dead inside).

Dick’s not only supports athletes who are training for the Olympics and Paralympics (about 200 across 35 sports), they used their own employees in this ad. As Ad Age reported, Dick’s, working with ad agency Anomaly, is “making a habit of using real people and their honest emotions in its ads.”

Bravo! As they should. There’s no better way of establishing trust and connecting with your audience than by using real people with compelling stories or action.

Advertising, marketing and branding is all about being real, sharing stories people can relate to. Dick’s isn’t being original–Home Depot has done this before (years ago even) with their pre-Olympics advertising because they are another company who employs athletes and supports them as they train. But that’s okay. Not everything has to be original, it just has to be done well, and their latest ads certainly are.

Dick’s is upping their game to the level of Nike, Adidas and Under Armour advertising–all brands their stores sell, so it makes sense to go in this direction.

Here’s the most recent one I saw that stuck in my brain:

This “Footwear” ad isn’t blatantly empowering but it is real and very human. In 60 seconds, they cover just about every sport and manage to work in family at the same time, while never showing faces, only feet. It’s clever. The music integrates well with the sounds of feet hitting pavement, tracks, puddles and more. Yet there’s also a warmness to it that comes from a subtle inclusion of kids’ feet.

For an ad they don’t bother to even title, it shows a broad range of products and manages to hook you in at the same time with a quickening beat and that human connection.

I hope Dick’s continues its relationship with Anomaly for a while because I kind of can’t wait to see what comes next. Interestingly, Dick’s and Anomaly share another connection–they both employ Olympic athletes in training. A quick look at Anomaly’s site revealed their “account man” Daryl Homer is training for the 2016 Olympics as well.

Good luck to all the athletes training for this summer’s Olympics and Paralympics, and let’s hope Dick’s and Anomaly keep this good stuff coming!


P.S. If you’re looking for an empowering ad for women, Dick’s and Anomaly made one of those too. It was Adweek’s Ad of the Day in April of last year.