Gatorade’s CMO Wins Adweek’s Top Honor as 2015 Grand Brand Genius

Morgan Flatley led 50th anniversary campaign

Morgan Flatley, the CMO who guides Gatorade's consistently high-profile advertising efforts, ended last night with two trophies—a Brand Genius award and Adweek's highest honor, Grand Brand Genius for 2015.

Adweek editorial director James Cooper with
Gatorade CMO Morgan Flatley.

 The annual awards honor key client-side executives behind the year's most inventive and memorable branding efforts. The winners, chosen by a panel of Adweek's senior editors, represent each major consumer-goods category. Honorees were feted Tuesday night at historic Guastavino's in New York City, and received a profile in the magazine's Oct. 19 issue.

Flatley was honored for raising the creative bar at Gatorade in recent months, no easy task, as the PepsiCo brand was already recognized for producing some of the best sports-themed advertising on the planet. Somehow, Flatley and her team, including lead agency TBWA\Chiat\Day, dug deep and took the work to a whole new level as Gatorade celebrated its 50th anniversary.

"This is a tremendous honor, and thank you, but it's not about me," Flatley told the Brand Genius gala audience. "It's about 50 years of legacy and decades of people who have built this amazing brand. I really want to acknwoledge the history behind the brand."

Gatorade got its birthday party started at the beginning of the year with a stylish minute-long spot that featured clips of 50 classic sports moments from the past half-century, bookended by footage of Gatorade's 1965 invention at the University of Florida and the school's Gators football squad today.

In addition the anniverary ad, there were many marketing highlights, ranging from a souped-up revival of the iconic '90-era "Be Like Mike" ads starring Michael Jordan to Derek Jeter's heartfelt farewell to Yankees fans on the streets of NYC. (The "Made in NY" campaign with Jeter won a gold Lion at Cannes and the Grand Clio Sports Award.) Another campaign featuring Serena Williams was capped off by an unforgettable spot—aired during her quest to win the U.S. Open and complete tennis' grand slam—that showed the legend interviewed as a child phenom and looking forward to her own future.

Adweek's top editor said Gatorade earned the magazine's Grand Brand Genius award by balacing its storied legacy with a passion for modern storytelling.  

"Gatorade was a clear winner because its marketing team, under the leadership of Morgan Flatley, demonstrated how a heritage brand can resurrect the past's greatest moments, then redeploy them to tremendous emotional effect," said James Cooper, Adweek's editorial director. "Gatorade didn't just bring back its most famous faces, but reached a broader audience by making sure that amateur athletes got an equal share of the spotlight. For its 50th anniversary campaign, Gatorade created something that rarely exists between consumers and a megabrand—a personal bond."

Other 2015 Brand Genius honorees include Kim McCullough, vice President of marketing, Jaguar Land Rover North America; Michael Moynihan, vice president of marketing, Lego Systems; Michele Baeten, associate brand director at Procter & Gamble's Always; and Gary Osifchin, portfolio lead, Biscuits North America, Mondelez International.

Arianna Huffington received Adweek's 2015 Brand Visionary award, honoring her career leading Huffington Post Media Group. Every Mother Counts, a nonprofit that works to make pregnancy and childbirth safe worldwide, was honored with the second annual Brand Save award.

Originally known as Brandweek's Marketer of the Year awards, Adweek's Brand Genius honors continue a two-decade tradition of saluting the brightest minds of the marketing world.