This spec ad for Gatorade was done just in time for Mother's Day. But first some back story: Robert Nyerges' mom passed almost a decade ago from pulmonary hypertension and was clearly a big influence on the creation of this spot. In it, we see a young boy as he grows into a young man with his mom being a big part of his life. As he develops a passion for baseball, the mother develops a sudden illness. The spot shows her rapid decline in health, her death and what I assume is the selling of the house that I also assume is the boy's childhood home.
Now, having lost my mom nearly four years to this day I know the gravity of those emotions well. I also know how hard it can be to translate the personal into something universal. Nyerges has done a great job of directing here. The sound design of the bat hitting the baseball that starts to sync up to a lachrymose piano-only version of "Take me out to the ballgame," is heartbreaking. The boy who is now forced into adulthood by having to deal with all the stuff an executor of a will deals with (something no one ever prepares you for, by the way) is as real as it gets. So the film and storytelling moments here are great.
But as a piece of advertising, it's flawed. While it may be quite accurate to depict a son in his late teenaged years acting out in frustration of having to be a caretaker and student and aspiring baseball player, it isn't very inspiring. He either comes across as being selfish or helpless, someone who drowns their emotion at the batting cage rather than "deal with everything." Those might be very valid emotional reactions. All of us are flawed and process losing a loved one differently. But we are talking about an ad here. As a film it's riveting. As an ad, it's not very inspiring. Nor does it live up to Gatorade's "Win from Within," tagline. I suspect if the ending were somewhat different and there was a bit of redemption it would have worked perfectly. For instance, if he made a team (even the minor leagues) and thanked his mother for being the inspiration that carried him that carried him there. Or something. But because there's no resolution or character development of the teen it just shows him burying his mom, shredding a bunch of papers, selling a house and continuing to soldier on at the batting cage. Lots of within, but not much win, unfortunately.
Director - Robert Nyerges
Cast – Richie Rosales, EJ Pearson, DJ Pearson, Beth Goldberg, Frank Mercuri, and Isis Rodriguez
Creative Director – Lauren Smith
Cinematographer – Chris Westlund
Production – Jeff Overfield
Costume Designer – Ashley Ellsworth
Hair + Makeup – Kimberly Distel
Production Designer – Laura Barr-Jones
On-Set Dresser – Arthur Kaplan
1st AC – Esther Woodworth
Gaffer – Jihad Pierce
Production Sound Mixer – Paul Cornett
Editor – Niles Howard
Composer – Danny Cocke
Colorist – Robert Crosby, Neptune Post
Sound Design + Mix – Peter Lapinski & Lisa Mermelstein, Lime Studios
Special Thanks – Karen, Bill, & Katie Redmond