Here’s Bullish’s Rejected Super Bowl Spot for GNC

By Erik Oster 

Bullish, the new agency launched by Deutsch veterans Michael Duda and Brent Vartan last year created a Super Bowl spot for the struggling GNC brand. But last week, the NFL informed the company that it had decided to pull the ad, since GNC sells supplements which contains substances which the NFL bans players from taking.

GNC promoted the spot, entitled “#CourageToChange,” on social media yesterday, with plenty of shade thrown at the NFL for its decision to not run the ad.

As we wrote previously, there’s nothing controversial about the spot itself, save perhaps for a brief shot of a protester, which is a motivational anthem ad about finding the power and determination for self-improvement.


“Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t change,” opens the voiceover over quick cuts of a one-armed drummer practicing, a swimmer, a boy lifting weights, a new mother with her baby and a firefighter taking on a forest fire. “That’s what life is: change,” he continues as the ad makes its way to its eventual “#CouragetToChange” tagline.

While nothing revolutionary, the ad executes the well-worn message more convincingly than most and it’s a relevant one for the wellness brand. The implication is clearly that GNC can help viewers towards their goals with their line of supplements and healthcare products.

If not for the NFL’s decision to pull the ad it would likely be remembered as a fairly solid spot which the brand was hoping would help bring it out of a slump. Instead, most of the conversation around the ad has been about the NFL’s decision not to run it.