Health Group Mad At Michael Jordan Ad For Implying Gatorade Cured His Flu

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.

Health group attacks Gatorade’s Michael Jordan ad [Reuters]


Edit Your Comment

  1. philpm says:

    PHAI is reading WAAAAAAAY too much into this ad. Especially considering that even after downing that much Gatorade to get through the game, Jordan still had to be helped off the court after the game. That was an extraordinary performance by Jordan in that game, but I think the context of the ad makes it clear that it still takes an extraordinary athlete the likes of Michael Jordan to pull something like that off.

    • Costner says:

      Agreed. Not once in the ad did they even imply the Gatorade was responsible for his win or that it even made him feel better. They made it clear this was Jordan fighting to be the best and the tagline of “win from within” just adds to that.

      Plus, aside from showing the cup a few times, I never could see what was in the cup. This ad reminds me more of some of the Nike ads that talk about working and fighting for what you want and only at the end do they show a Nike logo. It is about the message of being an athlete and competitor… not just about selling a sports drink.

      I get so sick of industry trade groups trying to control everything and making silly claims that are never supported by evidence. Talk about a gigantic reach and assumption the part of the Public Health Advocacy Institute.

      • Jawaka says:

        If the ad isn’t meant to insinuate that the Gatorade helped Jordan when he was sick then I guess I don’t really understand why Gatorade paid ran ad that shows a sick Jordan drinking something that they’d certainly like us to believe is Gatorade.

  2. miguelggarcia says:

    But… It is for the kids!!!!
    Come on! In no way, shape of form it’s being said that Gatorade helped him. That’s just ridiculous. If anything, we should blame the church (any church) for making us believe that “faith” helps overcome illness, just listen to Coach Jackson’s words.

    • JennQPublic says:

      He doesn’t say anything about faith. He said it made him believe in the “will to win”.

      Way to make this about religion for absolutely no reason.

      • OSAM says:

        It’s a valid comparison. PHAI arguing that Gatorade is claiming it helped him win is just as ridiculous as some other group claiming their prayers helped.

        • JennQPublic says:

          I just don’t understand why you guys are bringing faith and prayer into a conversation they didn’t start out in.

  3. Reading Rainbow says:

    I always wanted to be like Mike too, so I drank Gatorade. That didn’t work either. SUE!!!

  4. SomeWhiteGuy says:

    I’m confused as to why the PHAI is petitioning the government on this one. Why not approach Gatorade directly… since Gatorade is a private industry… not a government program.
    Also, the ad isn’t advocating anything but to put your all into what you do and to not give up. Jordan signed off, the coach signed off, and the networks didn’t see an issue with it, and don’t give me that “It’s fer the chirren” crap. If your child can’t see that they are just trying to sell a product, they don’t need to be watching TV, hand them a book…

    Sorry bout that.

  5. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    I actually thought the ad was playing to his being HIV+ and still persisting through it. “Flu-like” after all.

    • belsonc says:

      Wrong MJ – you’re thinking of Magic Johnson…

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        Eh, makes sense. I don’t follow netball very much at all.

  6. teke367 says:

    “Wait a minute — Michael Jordan can do no wrong!”

    Um, just about everything he’s done since retiring as a player begs to differ…

  7. Blueskylaw says:

    Finally, a cure for the flu/cough that is cheap and will
    put the pharmaceutical cold/flu industry out of business.

  8. Kuri says:

    Oh please ,everyone knows the real cure is Sprite and Dayquil /s

    Seriously though, we seem too many cases like this where it’s all the minds of those complaining.

  9. gman863 says:

    How about a two-point font disclaimer at the bottom of the ad for three seconds:

    “Professional Athlete with multi-million dollar contract. Do not attempt.”

  10. He says:

    To me the ad says the gatorade helped him endure it, not that it cured it. I drink “sport” drinks when I’m sick anyways, so I might be biased though.

    • OutPastPluto says:

      I find this a bit hilarious since pediatricians specifically recommend feeding your kids glorified gatorade when they are sick. Any doctor will tell you to drink more fluids. Perhaps they will even tell you to keep your electrolytes in balance.

      Some coach just managed to make the connection between fluids, electrolytes, and intense physical activity one day.

  11. The_IT_Crone says:

    Ok let me read this another way. They are afraid that this ad will make today’s kids work too hard, and persist through illness?

    Not going to happen. Don’t worry about it.

  12. XianZomby says:

    Gatorade can’t cure the flu becasue it isn’t organic and all-natural.

  13. Patriot says:

    He is the owner of the official worst team in NBA history, the 2012 Charlotte Bobcats. Who says he can do no wrong?

  14. Free Legal Advice! says:

    But, but, but … Gatorade helps me get over the flu. Seriously, I lay on the couch for two days under a pile of blankets, drink gallons of yellow Gatorade (or citrus if I can find it), and sllep/watch daytime tv. I thought that’s what everyone did.

    • OSAM says:

      Pretty much. I live on G2 when I’m sick. All the electrolytes, without all the bloating carbs.

  15. Tacojelly says:

    Gatorade is indeed great for the flu though

  16. radish01001 says:

    Can I have a Gatorade too or does that lightning bolt mean no?