Seattle Weather: Calling for (Golden) Showers

Near the end of Seattle's blowout win over Carolina in the NFC Championship game, FOX Sports offered the home televiewer a carefully staged "product integration" featuring a freshly-filled jug of Gatorade being brought out from the bowels of the stadium, purportedly to be dumped on Seattle head coach Mike Holmgren by the players to celebrate the big victory.

This was not by accident. For years, there has been a delightfully "impromptu" tradition of soaking coaches with the sports drink at the end of big wins, beginning with a splash on Bill Parcells in the mid-80s. Gatorade received millions of dollars of free publicity from the stunt over time, and paid big money to ensure that only its products were available on NFL sidelines.

Darren Rovell, ESPN's sports business reporter and author of the book First in Thirst: How Gatorade Turned the Science of Sweat into a Cultural Phenomenon, notes on his blog the benefits that Gatorade received from their sponsorship during the Seattle-Carolina game:

We always see athletes making a great play and then going to back to the sidelines to fill up on some Gatorade. Rarely do we see it the other way around. Well, it happened Sunday night. Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith was shown on the sidelines drinking Gatorade (from a bottle, not a cup) and then moments later, Smith rumbled in for the team's only touchdown in the first half. Not a bad in-game commercial. It's times like these when people at Gatorade realize that that $45 million a year that they pay the NFL for sideline rights, is clearly a bargain.

Now with this being the first NFC Championship win in Seattle's franchise history, one might think that they would be so excited that they would want to maintain tradition and give Holmgren the end-of-game Gatorade shower treatment. The staged TV shot of the fresh jug seemed poised for such a moment.

But there was no splash. Instead, players ran onto the field, shooks hands with their opponents, and celebrated with one another.

Could it be that the hackers were tired of having their ecstatic moment exploited for financial gain? That once the shower went from spontaneous act to planned celebratory moment to scripted product placement opportunity, they decided to resist?

If so, then the following becomes problematic. Upon returning from commercial, FOX play-by-play lead Joe Buck segued back to the action with "No Gatorade bath for Mike Holmgrem, but…" and though I don't have the rest of the words verbatim, mentioned how Seattle was on its way to the Super Bowl.

So now the players' participation in the "marketing opportunity" isn't even required anymore. Between FOX's staged visuals and Buck's commentary, our collective memory fills in the rest.

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One response to Seattle Weather: Calling for (Golden) Showers

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  1. Craig Upper says:

    This is a situation that can really show the dark side to the sport-media complex. When you read about product placement and a company spending extremely large sums of money just to be the sole provider of drink on the sideline it raises many questions. The first question that I wonder is whether or not professional sports are a by-product of the media and whether without the media professional sports as we know it would seize to exist? Is it the amount of fans that attract media attention, or is it media attention that attracts the hundreds of thousands of fans? It has become impossible to seperate sports and the media because how interelated they are, especially when considering professional sports.