A group of public health activists have filed a complaint
with the Federal Trade Commission suggesting that, in the case of a Gatorade TV
commercial getting a lot of play this NBA playoff season, it's not such a good
thing to "be Like Mike."
In a letter to the FTC commissioners dated Tuesday (May 8),
the Yale U Rudd Center, Center for Science in Public Interest and the Public
Health Advocacy Institute at Northeastern University School of Law (together, the Public Health Advocacy Institute) asked the
FTC to investigate PepsiCo's ad , which features a stomach flu-stricken Michael
Jordan apparently getting some help from a cup of Gatorade in his effort to
play through the illness and help his team secure a win in game five (the
"Flu" game) of the 1997 NBA finals (the Bulls won in six).
They are seeking an investigation into the "Win From Within"
ad, claiming it encourages teenagers to engage in "dangerous
behavior" -- playing through illness -- and creates a false sequence of
events to enhance Gatorade's role in the performance and uses deceptive product
imagery. It says the FTC needs to investigate whether it was actually Gatorade
in that cup, or water in a Gatorade-branded cup that was "enhanced"
in the ad to look like Gatorade.
The groups claim that the ad was targeted to teens, saying
that over half its airings have come on teen-targeted cable nets including Adult
Swim, Teen Nick, ABC Family and MTV.
"We ask that the FTC seek relief on behalf of teen
consumers to prevent further distribution of the Jordan Ad and that the FTC
order PepsiCo to engage in corrective advertising that advises teens to not
engage in physical activity when they have the flu or are suffering from a
fever, describes the dangers of competing in sports when ill and clearly states
that Gatorade is not intended to be used to enhance the athletic performance of
teens who are suffering from the flu or a fever," the groups tell the FTC.
The FCC is empowered to enforce rules against false and
"We are aware of the Public Health Advocacy Institute's letter to the FTC today regarding our Michael Jordan 'Flu Game' TV commercial," said Gatorade in a statement. "We are currently reviewing the letter and can not comment at this time."