- Dianna Feng
Brand Of The Week: Powerade's "Pause is Power"
This week’s Brand of the Week is POWERADE’s “Pause is Power.” I came across this one a couple of days ago and found it incredibly inspiring. Maybe it’s just the targeted advertisements I get as a woman, but I seldom see campaigns that (in my opinion) promote mental health meaningfully and successfully with men – much less in the context of men’s sports, where traditional masculinity is ever persistent and, even in women’s sports, there is still a “win at all costs” mentality. What I love about this campaign is that it really challenges Tradition and promotes especially Gen Z notions of Hedonism and Achievement.
What is this campaign?
The campaign opens with Tottenham’s Head Coach Antonio Conte saying: “Our biggest problem right now – we are missing pauses. The secret to winning… is to pause.”
Throughout the campaign’s hero film, we see athletes pausing in many different ways: dancing, playing rock-paper-scissors, knitting with Tom Daley, getting a manicure, and having a POWERADE… What’s interesting and lovely here is that “pause” does not necessarily embody traditional definitions or expressions, like disconnecting, escaping into and self-isolating in nature, or practicing mindfulness meditation. While the campaign promotes “pausing,” what we see instead is rather active, dynamic, and energetic – here, pausing isn’t about stillness, but allowing yourself a moment of fun and enjoyment to refuel and recharge mentally and emotionally. Being able to give yourself that permission – especially in a context where there is immense pressure to keep performing – is in itself powerful.
What Values does the campaign enable?
The film features some famous professional athleteswho have challenged the norms and expectations of sports culture and society – carving a new, more honest, and compassionate path for not only themselves, but for generations of athletes to follow.
There are few openly gay athletes in the hyper-masculine world of men’s professional sports, where criticism, harassment, and even assault are persistent threats. Despite this, British diver Tom Daley publicly announced he was gay in 2013 in a YouTube video and has since become a public advocate of LGBTQ+ rights – pledging to “make the whole Commonwealth a better place for LGBT people” and calling for the Olympics to ban countries where being gay is punishable by death. Tom Daley also exemplifies Self-Direction in the film through his knitting – a craft often not associated with men and masculinity, much less a male professional athlete. But here, Tom Daley doesn’t just knit to pass time; he and the others featured in the campaign do it as a moment of “pause” that benefits their wellbeing.
American gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from the TokyoSummer 2020 Olympics after continually experiencing “the twisties” and has been open and vocal about her decision to prioritize her mental health. Biles has since become an advocate of mental health and pushed these conversations to the forefront of professional sports, where mental health issues are traditionally not discussed publicly despite research that revealed 34% of current elite athletes and 26% of former elite athletes are impacted by anxiety and depression. In the film, she’s seen at a nail salon – after announcing her break and being questioned and criticized by reporters – declaring, “Sometimes, you gotta stop to be… an actual human.”
Hedonism is a value that is present throughout the film… not the reckless or self-indulgent kind, but rather a more gentle version that focuses on the genuine experience of fun and joy, conveyed through the background music, dancing, knitting, and random appearance of a goat – as well as the overall playful depiction of professional athletes, who we might otherwise think of as more serious.
In this campaign, pausing is not at all about quitting – it’s about the power of prioritizing wellbeing, taking a moment when you need it, and ultimately becoming your best self because you’ve allowed yourself a break from that relentless strive for Achievement.
Here, Achievement doesn't embody traditional notions of winning or success, but rather something that is more personal – finding ways to achieve and maintain a good work/life balance, making sure one’s mental health is a priority, and living a more meaningful life.
Hope you all have a lovely pause-filled week! Dianna