Baywatch Pulled Off an Impressive Prank With This Fake History of Its Color Palette

Fremantle had some fun with the show's 30th anniversary and Pantone partnership

Did Baywatch originally intend to go with blue swimsuits before the signature red? Fremantle
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What would Baywatch be without its signature red?

The color is as much an iconic part of the show as David Hasselhoff, Pamela Anderson or slow-motion sprints across the beach. Yet a video shared by the official Baywatch page on Facebook recently revealed that the show originally tested several other colors, even settling on blue for the swimsuits and life buoys—before making the last-minute decision to go with red instead.

One problem: The story’s totally bogus.

The video, which purports to show “never before seen footage” and pre-series photography, was actually one big exercise in color-corrected fakery from the team at Fremantle, the show’s production and distribution company.

The clip was created to highlight the show’s partnership with Pantone on a color called Baywatch Red and to mark the 30th anniversary of Baywatch’s debut in 1989.

In 2018, Fremantle remastered all episodes of the 11-season show, which has since been picked up by networks around the world and streaming services including Amazon Prime and Hulu in the U.S.

To learn more about the alternate-history video stunt, we talked to Benedict Richards, the producer and editor who created the clip:

Adweek: How hard was the process of replacing the red in original footage with new colors?
Benedict Richards, producer/editor, Fremantle: Oddly, the main issue came from the Baywatch Remastered footage being so good that we had to downgrade it to look more like the ’80s.

Having to alter colors frame-by-frame that were the opposite end of the color wheel to red was also a challenge, as skin tones were sometimes picked up. Orange/pink hues to skin are fine but green skin wouldn’t have looked too good.


How did the idea come about to make a fake history of the color palette?
Baywatch is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and one of the ways that Fremantle, the original producer and distributor of the series, decided to commemorate the occasion was to collaborate with Pantone to form an official new color: Baywatch Red.

We wanted to find a way to talk about the collaboration that was fun and could be used when announcing the deal in the press and on social media. My colleagues, Roy Henry and Hattie Moir, came up with the concept and script for a world where Baywatch had trialed various colors for their lifeguard uniforms before landing on the iconic red. It was a great way to highlight the significance and universal recognizability of the color in relation to the show.

How has the color-history gag been received?
The fact that people are falling for the joke and talking about it shows how much of an impact it has–you can’t have Baywatch without the red. It’s been a great way to create new conversations around the series. Fans of Baywatch can watch all 198 episodes of the HD remastered version of Baywatch on Amazon.

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."