Reverse psychology isn’t new. Ever since our mothers first pretended to eat our cold, slightly spit-up-on, baby mush we’ve been falling for it. So it’s little wonder that advertising agencies have attempted to tap into this rebellious streak over the years with campaigns such as Yorkie’s It’s Not For Girls and Gatorade’s latest Sweat It To Get It campaign.
Gatorade, an American sports drink loaded with electrolytes was originally designed for – you guessed it – sports people. So, coming into American Football season, they decided to launch a new tongue-in-cheek “policy” instructing stores to refuse Gatorade to anyone who has not recently worked up a sweat.
The campaign itself was filmed “hidden camera style”. We say “style” because these supposedly candid pranks, featuring Rob Belushi as the unfortunate store clerk and NFL star Peyton Manning as the intimidating store manager, are quite obviously staged.
In each of the spots shop clerk Rob Belushi tries and fails to explain to “unsuspecting” customers that it is against store policy for him to sell them Gatorade without physical evidence that they have worked up a sweat recently. The customers’ reactions are comical, if sometimes fascicle, with one man resorting to doing jumping jacks, while another woman launches into a yoga pose in the middle of the store.
According to Brent Anderson, ECD at TBWA\Chiat\Day in Los Angeles “the intent was to create something that might cause someone who reaches for a Gatorade to think, ‘Hold up … have I earned this?'”
Why Gatorade would want customers to pose this question is interesting in itself. Are Gatorade concerned about the negative brand image associated with couch potatoes publicly drinking their products, like when the English football hooligans refused to stop wearing Burberry caps? Or are they instead simply pre-empting the wrath of government health-policy experts, currently pushing for increased regulation of sugary drinks?
The other, and even more likely option? Gatorade is using our good old friend reverse psychology to boost sales and encourage couch potatoes across the United States to stand up (slowly, with great creaking) and rebel against this injustice, by drinking as much Gatorade as they can get their chubby little, bone dry, hands on.