Michael Jordan's Gatorade ad, a health group alleges, promotes dangerous behavior for athletes all over, and they are campaigning to have the commercial examined or even pulled completely.
The Michael Jordan Gatorade ad was criticized by health group Public Health Advocacy Institute, a legal center located at Northeastern University's School of Law. The commercial shows the legend being "cured" from his illness by Gatorade during his famous playoff "Flu Game"— the 1997 NBA Finals game widely lauded for Jordan's stellar performance in the face of sickness.
"The Jordan Ad openly promotes engaging in vigorous physical activity while suffering from a very high fever, in Jordan's case 103 degrees," the institute wrote in a letter to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
"It is a generally recognized safety principle that teens and even professional athletes suffering from a severe fever and flu-like symptoms should not engage in vigorous physical activity," PHAI added in the May 8 letter.
The commercial starts out showing an exhausted Michael Jordan struggling to stand up, with a voiceover done by then-Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson.
"It made me a believer," says Jackson in the ad, as Jordan sips from a cup of orange Gatorade. "Not luck, or fate … but his will to win. You win from within."
PHAI took issue with the PepsiCo., who owns Gatorade, because almost all archived footage from the historic championship game never showed Jordan drinking Gatorade. Furthermore, the footage run during the ad was taken at the end of the game— Jordan slumped over on the bench, sipping clear fluids because he was finished playing, not to go back in, as the ad implies.
The health group is concerned that the advertising, if taken at face value, could promote impressionable young competitors to perform at all costs—even while sick or injured.
"There is already enormous pressure on teen athletes to win at all costs by practicing during extreme heat and playing through injuries," PHAI stated.
The legal group is pressuring the FTC to order PepsiCo. pull the ad and take corrective measures. They also want the commercial footage analyzed to see if the drinks giant digitally altered the Gatorade cup and the orange liquid.
Neither PepsiCo. Inc. nor Gatorade has responded to the controversy.