Historical Analysis: Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better

This 2007 Gatorade commercial features two famous athletes, Mia Hamm (USA Women’s Soccer) and Michael Jordan (NBA), competing in a compilation of sporting activities to the tune of “Anything you can do I can do better”.  All the while, Michael and Mia taunt one another and drink Gatorade, which also seems to bead off of their bodies as if they are literally sweating Gatorade as they are playing.  Due to how gender roles are portrayed in the ad, the ad’s usage of professional sports icons, its “soft sell” style of advertising, and other  characteristics, this commercial is a fitting example of what a contemporary ad looks like.

Probably the most significant factor that makes this commercial a contemporary ad is its usage of cultural references, specifically its use of very famous professional athletes Mia Hamm and Michael Jordan.  This endorsement tactic was not widely introduced into advertising until after the World War II era which immediately marks the ad as being from the contemporary category.  Not only does it depict these athletes as themselves in the ad, but it  them simply playing different sports (their own sports of soccer and basketball included) and drinking Gatorade.  This is significant because, rather than having Michael and Mia talk and deliver information about Gatorade, the commercial simply depicts the athletes playing and drinking.  This non-informational “soft sell” style of advertising is  very typical of the contemporary ad category where as the more “hard sell” and informational types of ads were much more common in the depression era and other earlier ad categories.

Another significant characteristic of this ad is Gatorade’s usage of gender roles, specifically in pitting Mia Hamm against Michael Jordan in what seems an evenly matched competition.  Advertisements use of gender roles in previous ad categories, like the Depression and WWII eras, could likely be considered  sexist and often portrayed women in stereotypical positions such as cooking or cleaning.  Oppositely, this contemporary ad puts a professional female athlete (the notion of which might not have existed in earlier categories) and a professional male athlete on  equal levels by showing them defeating one another in different sports competitions.  In the final moments of the commercial Mia even throws Michael to the ground in a martial arts match, which further marks this ad as being part of the contemporary era of advertising.

Finally, this ad can also be read as using a bit of humor, which is also characteristic of  contemporary ads.  The way the two athletes interact with and taunt each other in the commercial can be considered quite comical depending on how one looks at it.  At the :13 second mark, Mia taunts Michael saying, “Had enough?”, and then at the :21 second mark, Mia clearly darts ahead of Michael without having an even start to their foot race.  These points in the commercial, culminating in the judo-flip by Mia to Michael at the end of the video, make the commercial quite funny to watch.  Overall, this ad is clearly not meant to tell us about Gatorade’s product or inform us on its benefits, but it is also meant to entertain.



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