McCann trademarked this phrase in 1926, and it’s as important today as then: Truth Well Told ® and it should be a cornerstone of any ad, not just the great ones.

This TV spot from Element 79 Partners in Chicago, is actually one of a series called “Origins” and it will serve us well for an example of what makes great advertising.

Gatorade is a category leader, and may as well have invented the sports drink market. From a leadership position they understand they need to make a connection with their target market- but not beat their chests. This is a key ingredient that car companies would do well to learn. Nobody likes a braggart- and this applies to your advertising as well. They have taken the story of their products beginnings and turned it into a near mythological tale- if you have history, if you have a story, take it and use it.

Up until watching these spots, the connection between Gatorade and the Florida Gators wasn’t obvious to me, it was just a trade name that spurred a whole bunch of other ‘ades- with the exception of the original one- Kool Aid® which totally missed this market segment. (Right now, anything with the word “Gator” in it might hit a sore spot in our home state of Ohio- thanks to two national championship losses to Florida this year). Element 79 has managed to do several versions of this same story- and still keep them different. Unfortunately, I can’t find the other treatments to share with you.

But, the key to realize is that it tells the story, solidifying the category leading position, and can be done several different ways. Both good ingredients.

Another key ingredient is to play with the familiar. This spot uses both familiar music- and familiar sports stars, stories and even the announcer (sorry I don’t have his name).

While hit music, star athletes and well known personalities are all great to have in a campaign, this one does it without making them upstage the product. Although I love Michael Jordan in so many of the ads he did- they often ended up being more about him than the product.

Which brings up the next trick to making a great tv spot: cool by association. In and by itself, Gatorade is just a drink. Once you connect it to the mythos of sport, and particularly championships, you’ve planted a brand statement that speaks to the innermost desires in all of us: the dream of greatness. If you can make someone believe that your product will make them great, better looking, smarter, richer, sexier etc. you have done your job.

Telling your story in :30 or :60 seconds is a major accomplishment. Most TV commercials can’t do a fraction of what this spot does- typically a spot is good if it hammers home one salient point- this one is coup de grace for the category of sports drinks. If you can’t tell your story in your spot- can you at least get their attention and make them curious enough to go to your website?

Budget also plays a part in your formula for a great tv spot. Some of this was archival footage, other parts were shot to look that way- but, always remember, if you don’t have a big budget, go for a big concept (I’ve been told that this is a mantra at Crispin Porter + Bogusky).

The last secret to getting the best results for your TV commercial- put it on your site, put it on YouTube, let as many people have access to it as possible. Let your customers talk about it- discuss it- analyze it (just like what we’re doing here) the days of “controlling” your message are over- your customers are now at the helm. When you post it- remember to add a lot of descriptive text, since search engines have no idea what a video file contains. For this spot we would suggest: The history of Gatorade, Gatorade tv commercial, origins of gatorade, the story of gatorade and how gatorade was part of the Florida Gators sports success - get the idea?

If you have more questions about how to make great tv spots on a big or little budget, or on how to get them seen by the most people- ask us. We’ve got plenty of good ideas on how to make your brand stand out and your message heard.