Every Wednesday AdForum's James Thompson features a seminal ad from the past that in some way revolutionized advertising by profoundly impacting our industry, our culture, or the way our society interacts with commerce.
Today we honor baseball icon and quirky cultural philosopher Lawrence Peter "Yogi” Berra, who died yesterday at the age of 90. It was a good run. Yogi Berra was an 18-time All-Star catcher for the New York Yankees and selected three times as MLB’s Most Valuable Player. In addition, Berra was either a player or a coach for 13 MLB clubs that won the World Series.
Throughout his storied career and enduring fame, Berra was also at the forefront of athletes endorsing products – from Miller Lite beer to Stove Top Stuffing – a burgeoning cultural evolution and advertising dynamic marked by a commingling of commerce, celebrity, and technology that continues to shape modern advertising.
Make no mistake: this is a sophisticated ad (video below). It leverages the enormous good will surrounding Berra’s beloved personality with a sleek campaign titled “Body Wisdom” that – as explained by popular sportscaster Budd Palmer – is the result of the human body craving vitamin C, the primary nutrient in Florida Orange Juice. Today, that vitamin C and “Body Wisdom” easily translates into Gatorade and other sports drinks ads touting the health benefits of replenishing electrolytes through celebrity sponsors such as Serena Williams, Peyton Manning, and Michael Jordan.
Notably, this 1957 ad also seamlessly expands the marketing demographic by explaining how Florida Orange Juice isn’t only integral to the success of a homerun hitter like Yogi Berra, but also to everyday people, including moms cooking in the kitchen, dads toiling away at work, and even children playing on the playground. Excellent work, even by today’s lofty standards.
Now, let’s all take a minute to celebrate – and laugh at – some of Yogi Berra’s most whimsically accurate and almost reluctantly profound insights and observations about baseball and life:
"Baseball is ninety percent mental; the other half is physical."
"It ain't over 'til it's over."
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
“You can observe a lot by just watching.”
"You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six."
“The future ain’t what it used to be.”
"It's déjà vu all over again."
R.I.P. Yogi Berra