An Old Timer Pines for Powerade in W+K’s Fun March Madness Flashback

'Back in my day' gets a brilliantly slapstick twist (or three)


Powerade isn’t just a sports drink. It turns an athlete into a magically unstoppable force of nature, says a tongue-in-cheek new ad from Wieden + Kennedy Portland.

The :30 opens on an old timer working the register at a convenience store. He’s about to ring up a bottle of blue Powerade sitting on the counter. But the youngster who’s buying it—and holding a basketball—isn’t getting away without a dose of nostalgic wisdom.

“Man,” says the silver-haired clerk, gazing dreamily at the neon beverage. “If I’d had this kind of power back in my day … my crossover would’ve been something else. I would’ve broke everybody’s ankles.”

When he says everybody—he means it.

Cue a flashback fantasy to a ’70s court, where a younger version of himself is driving toward the basket. All nearby humans—players on the opposing team, the referee, even the man selling peanuts in the bleachers—inexplicably collapse as he shreds his way down the court.

His crossover would’ve been “so crazy,” in fact, that “if you recorded it [and] watched it two weeks later? Broke ankles,” he says. Cut back to the present, and he’s winding down. “Man, that is some kind of power.”

It’s an entertaining twist on a classic trope, a close cousin to the finger-wagging “You kids these days don’t know how good you’ve got it.” The production nails the details, down to a background soundtrack that instantly evokes Donna Summer’s iconic 1977 disco track “I Feel Love” by mimicking the bass line in another key. Incidentally, that’s the same year VHS tapes first appeared in the U.S.

And in the last scene, the actor playing the old timer perfectly snaps his head up from the Powerade to warn the youngster: “Careful now.”

Titled, naturally, “Ankles,” it’s part of a campaign called “That’s Some Kind of Power,” timed to launch with March Madness this past Tuesday—Powerade is a key sponsor of the NCAA.

The Coca-Cola-owned brand wanted to differentiate itself in an increasingly competitive sports drink category, Alex Ames, senior integrated marketing communications manager at Powerade, said in a statement. “We’re excited to bring a bit of humor and fun to a category that has become overly serious. At the end of the day, sports should be fun.”

To that end, even the new ad’s YouTube description offers a bit of its own advice—funnier (and, were the conceit true, far less useful) after seeing the spot: “You might wanna take a seat before you watch this.”

Client: Powerade
VP, Content & Creative Excellence: Brynn Bardacke
Sr. Manager, Integrated Marketing: Alexander Ames
Sr. Producer, Integrated Marketing: Rebecca Smith

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Creative Directors Max Stinson / Erik Fahrenkopf
Copywriter Damian Fitzgerald
Art Director Derrick Ho / James Moslander
Senior Producer Jennifer Fiske
Account Team David Hughes / Dave Hubbard / Tobin Kittoe / Mackenzie Walen
Planning Director Henry Lambert / Zack Kaplan
Group Media Director Alex Barwick
Executive Creative Directors Eric Baldwin / Jason Bagley
Head of Production Matt Hunnicutt / Mike Davidson

Production Company Somesuch
Director Daniel Wolfe
Executive Producer Tim Nash, Nicky Barnes
Line Producer Lee Groombridge
Director of Photography Chayse Irvin
Production Designer Andrew Clark
Wardrobe Patrik Milani

Editorial Company Cosmo Street
Editor Tom Lindsay
Post Producer Jonlyn Williams
Assistant Editor Habib Semaan

VFX Company Kevin
Executive Producer/Partner Sue Troyan
Executive CD/Partner Tim Davies
VFX Producer Leighton Greer
VFX Supervisor/Lead
Compositor: Tim Davies
Compositor Anthony Petitti, Steve Gibbons, Robert Murdoch
Head of CG Mike Dalzall
CG Modeler Greg Mawicke
CG Animator Matt Longwell
CG Lighter Carl Harders
Colorist Simon Bourne/Framestore
Music and Sound Design
Music Original music by Walker Music
Executive Producer Sara Matarazzo, Stephanie Pigott
Music Producer Jacob Piontek
Music Coordinator Marisa Hernandez
Sound Design Stimmung
Sound Designer Gus Koven
Executive Producer Kristina Iwankiw

Mix Company: Lime Studios
Mixer: Dave Wagg

@GabrielBeltrone Gabriel Beltrone is a frequent contributor to Adweek.