Gatorade Takes The Heat For Tweeting That LeBron James Can’t Take The Heat


Gatorade’s social media newsjacking attempt backfired last night when it taunted — and later apologized to — an ailing LeBron James during the first game of the NBA Finals. James, the Miami Heat star, had left the game in the second half suffering from severe leg cramps. The air conditioning had failed in the San Antonio arena and the temperature hit nearly 90. James was given intravenous fluids after the game, which was won by the Spurs, 110-95.

Soon after LeBron starting cramping up, the person running Gatorade’s Twitter account sent out a series of replies to tweets intimating that James wouldn’t have had a problem if he had been drinking Gatorade instead of Powerade, which James endorses, starting with these: “@CarmichaelDave This is awkward….We don’t sponsor him. #fail” and “@LazyBumDrew we were waiting on the sidelines, but he prefers to drink something else.

Today, Gatorade apologized — in a release but not on Twitter: “Our apologies for our response to fans’ tweets during last night’s Heat vs. Spurs game. We got caught up in the heat of the battle. As a longtime partner of the Miami Heat, we support the entire team.”

Gatorade hasn’t deleted the tweets. Before its LeBron cramping exchanges, it sent a tamer tweet about the sweltering temperatures during the game (eventually won by the Spurs, 110-95):

That tweet did fairly well with 472 tweets and 406 favorites, but it was the trash talking that really got Gatorade noticed. Meanwhile, Powerade’s Twitter account is silent, not having tweeted since before the game started:

Postscript: Turns out LeBron James was drinking Gatorade during the game, just with the label removed, making @Gatorade’s sustained trolling even more strange. As Deadspin reported:

Yes, James has an endorsement deal with Powerade. But that doesn’t trump Gatorade’s sponsorship with the NBA, for which it pays a reported $18 million a year to be the association’s “official sports drink.” Because of that deal, players on the bench have only two beverage options during games: water and Gatorade.

So, despite Gatorade tweeting that “our athletes can take the heat,” cameras captured an ailing LeBron James lustily drinking lemon-lime Gatorade in a desperate and futile attempt to get back into the game.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Social Media Marketing | Top News | Twitter


About The Author: is Third Door Media's Social Media Correspondent, reporting on the latest news for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. He spent 24 years with the Los Angeles Times, serving as social media and reader engagement editor from 2010-2014. A graduate of UC Irvine and the University of Missouri journalism school, Beck started started his career at the Times as a sportswriter and copy editor. Follow Martin on Twitter (@MartinBeck), Facebook and/or Google+.

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  • Matt LaCasse

    Gatorade looks even dumber since James WAS drinking their product.

  • Colin Guidi

    I truly loved the memes floating around, it wasn’t just Gatorade who jumped on that ;)

  • Martin Beck

    The internet provides :-) Thanks for the comment @colinguidi:disqus

    This NotBillWalton exchange with Samsung is pretty funny:

  • Colin Guidi

    That was great. Seems like the joke only extended to one party on that one ;). A good way to head into the weekend, cheers @disqus_89DMzC6g3k:disqus

  • Martin Beck

    Even better @colinguidi:disqus: Would you believe that LeBron was drinking Gatorade?

  • Steve

    Again, a company apologizes needlessly for taking a crack at their competitor. It’s fair game. It wasn’t like they made some racial remark or something that was offensive to a group of people. So what if you make fun of your competitor? Where’s the sense of competition??

    Reminds of when Yahoo apologized on Twitter for making fun of Google when Gmail went down for a little while.

    I wish politicians were this honest and apologetic.

  • Renard Moreau

    [ Smiles ] Hmmm. After the damage was done, Gatorade decided to apologize; I would saw that it is too late for that.

    Lebron James, shouldn’t have been treated like that in the first place!

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