Wait a minute — Michael Jordan can do no wrong! So why is a health group so mad at his new ad for Gatorade? Perhaps because the ad seems to maybe kind of imply that Jordan got over a flu during a basketball game in 1997 because he was swilling Gatorade. Jordan isn’t at fault, however. Whew.
The Public Health Advocacy Institute is asking the U.S. government to pull the ad, because it says it deceptively implies that he was able to overcome illness by drinking Gatorade during a game where he wasn’t feeling well. The group says PepsiCo is encouraging teens to engage in dangerous behavior, reports Reuters.
“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 said in a letter dated May 8 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.”
In the ad, Jordan seems visibly ill, but then chugs some liquid from a Gatorade cup, and goes on to do his “I Am Jordan I Am Awesome” thing, basketball-wise. The footage is from game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, where Jordan scored 38 points while suffering from a fever.
Former Bulls Coach Phil Jackson is also featured in the ad, talking about how Jordan was able to persist through his illness.
PHAI claims that archival footage it found never showed Jordan drinking any orange liquid from those multiple Gatorade cups, but only water or other clear liquids. It also claims that the shot of Jordan slumped over on the bench was near the end of the game after he had finished playing, and not earlier in the game, as the ad implies.
The group wants theFTC to investigate whether the color of the liquid in the cup featured at the beginning of the commercial was enhanced or altered.
“There is already enormous pressure on teen athletes to win at all costs by practicing during extreme heat and playing through injuries,” the group said.