* Group says ad appears to have altered historic footage
* Says ad promotes physical activity for teens during flu
* FTC says no decision on a probe
* PepsiCo says it is aware of the letter
WASHINGTON, May 8 A health group is asking the
U.S. government to yank a Gatorade ad that it says deceptively
implies that basketball great Michael Jordan prevailed over the
flu during a memorable 1997 game because he fueled with
The Public Health Advocacy Institute, a legal research
center at the Northeastern University School of Law, said it was
targeting the ad by Gatorade owner PepsiCo Inc because
it encourages teens to engage in dangerous behavior.
"The Jordan Ad openly promotes engaging in vigorous physical
activity while suffering from a very high fever, in Jordan's
case 103 degrees," the institute said in a letter dated May 8 to
the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
"It is a generally recognized safety principle that teens
and even professional athletes suffering from a severe fever and
flu-like symptoms should not engage in vigorous physical
PepsiCo said it was aware of the letter but had no immediate
comment. The FTC confirmed receipt of the letter, but said it
had made no decision on whether to look into the matter.
Gatorade's "Win From Within" commercial features footage
from game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals when Michael Jordan scored 38
points while visibly ill and suffering from a fever.
It also includes a recent interview with former Chicago
Bulls Coach Phil Jackson.
According to Gatorade's description of the 30-second
commercial on its website, "We see Jordan constantly hydrating
with Gatorade and returning to the court as we hear Coach
Jackson reveal how Jordan was able to persist - he had the will
to win and the fuel to help him do it."
PHAI in its letter said the ad sequences the footage to
falsely enhance the role of Gatorade during the so-called "Flu
The beginning of the ad shows an ill Jordan, slumped over
and clutching a cup of orange-colored liquid in a Gatorade cup.
He drinks from a Gatorade cup four more times as play
progresses, although the drink itself isn't visible.
The archival footage that the group found never showed
Jordan drinking orange-colored Gatorade but only water or other
The group further says that the shot of Jordan slumped over
on the bench was near the end of the game after Jordan was done
playing, rather than earlier in play as the ad implies.
PHAI is asking the FTC to investigate whether the color of
the liquid in the cup featured at the beginning of the
commercial was enhanced or altered.
It also said PepsiCo should be ordered to undertake
corrective advertising consistent with government recommendation
that people with the flu should stay home and not engage in
vigorous physical activity.
"There is already enormous pressure on teen athletes to win
at all costs by practicing during extreme heat and playing
through injuries," the group said.