Gatorade Drinkers Get Schooled in the Brand’s Most Humiliating Campaign Yet

J.J. Watt, Karl-Anthony Towns, Bryce Harper and a couple of catty anchors

Gatorade is back to gleefully shame more of its own consumers for being lazy and out of shape—this time with a roving crew of top athletes and nasty sportscasters, who all pop out of the back of a box truck to mock them for drinking the beverage while not sweating.

A new series of of reality-style videos from TBWA\Chiat\Day titled "Burn It to Earn It," features big names from football, basketball and baseball—the NFL's J.J. Watt, the NBA's Karl-Anthony Towns, and MLB's Bryce Harper. There's even a soccer version for Spanish-language audiences, with James Rodriguez, midfielder for European football club Real Madrid.

In the first minute-long U.S. spot, Watt, tight end for the Houston Texans, tackles a stunt man into a pile of trash, then chases some poor sap (or an actor playing one) and swatting the Gatorade out of his hand. In a second, towering Minnesota Timberwolves player Towns crushes one passerby in a dunk contest where the judges are the true stars, mocking the gravity-bound loser with ruthless signs and banter.

The basic idea traces back to 2014, when the sports drink first launched its "Sweat It to Get It" message with a series of spots set in a convenience store, starring comedian Rob Belushi and athletes Cam Newton and Peyton Manning, who all refused to sell Gatorade to customers who weren't dripping with the evidence of an intense workout. That campaign also included the line "Burn Some to Earn Some."

A 2015 extension, also featuring Manning alongside his brother Eli, saw an exacting vending machine refuse to grant students the sports drink on the same grounds.

The new spots may take the humiliating tradition to new heights, or depths. In a third video, Towns, a 7-foot-tall center and the league's 2015 Rookie of the Year, plays a game of keep-away with a woman who won't stop jumping for the bottle of Gatorade he's stolen from her. She scores an incredible number of points for her persevering spirit but wins for the perfect primal scream she lets out when she finally nabs the drink (or more accurately, when he lowers his ridiculously long arm enough for her to actually be able to do so).

In a fourth spot, Washington Nationals right fielder Harper berates some roped-in guy for running too slow to deserve a Gatorade (the pro player has apparently, to his credit, stopped counting incessantly). In a fifth, Watt challenges a woman to push a blocking sled, and then, dissatisfied with her performance, offers to help—which manifests in a manner that shouldn't be surprising or funny, but is.

A sixth spot sees Towns schooling another random Gatorade drinker in a one-on-one match-up. In a seventh spot, Watt scoops up and carries off a skinny young man who's had the misfortune—or fortune—of happening into the quarterback role during an in-the-street snap. As one announcer puts it, in perhaps the most hilarious line of the campaign, the NFL star has made the yellow-polo joe "the luckiest girl at the dance."

In the eighth spot, a guy in a Nationals jersey gets a chance to pitch for Harper. Alas, according to the judges, he has the arm of a "weak, sad kitten." In the ninth ad, Harper lazily pegs ground balls past a couple of guys who got shanghaied into being the world's most inept infielders, before forcing them both to do sit-ups instead—and only rewarding one.

The spots, of course, all seem clearly staged. But the concepts are largely entertaining, and the zingers from the judges particularly so, even if they are mean-spirited and the gag drags on at times. One thing, at least, is for sure—professional sports would always be a blast to watch if all announcers were as acerbic as these.

The Fans. The Brands. Social Good. The Future of Sports. Don't miss the upcoming Brandweek Sports Marketing Summit and Upfronts, a live virtual experience on Nov. 16-19. Early-bird passes available until Oct. 26. Register now

@GabrielBeltrone Gabriel Beltrone is a frequent contributor to Adweek.