For the first time in history, Gatorade has recognized dance as a sport and backed its announcement by signing a deal with FOX’s hit show, So You Think You Can Dance. Show creator, Nigel Lythgoe announced that Gatorade will market the winning dancer as the first ever dancer-athlete. This historic honor will be granted to the winning dancer in addition to the normal prizes of $250,000 cash and a cover of Dance Spirit magazine. The winner of the “America’s Favorite Dancer” title will be featured with Gatorade as a dancer-athlete in a move by Gatorade to establish dance as a professional sport. The historic honor of being named the first ever dancer-athlete signifies a turning point in dance and begins to blur the line even further between dance, sports and artistic performance.
Now in it’s seventh successful season, So You Think You Can Dance continues bringing professional dancers into the limelight of national television. The show continues to expand the reach of dance into our mainstream lives and now with this partnership with Gatorade, these dancers will join the ranks of other world-class athletes. Show creator, Nigel Lythgoe believes that this is a huge step towards finally seeing dance in the Olympic Games.
Being featured in the American media as the first ever dance-athlete is in some ways even more valuable than the quarter million dollars of prize money and the respected title of “America’s Favorite Dancer.” The winning dancer will take the ranks alongside other famous athletes and will be included in Gatorade’s G-Series print campaign in the Fall.
This move is a good part on Gatorade because with the rise of dance television and reality-based dance content, Gatorade has positioned itself to be first in the field of product driven sales directly relating to the dance industry. The trend for dance has grown over the last decade and continues to produce popular television shows such as So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars in order to meet the growing interest of viewers. Gatorade is perfectly positioned to capitalize on the increased demand and popular interest in dance.
Historically, Gatorade has featured two types of athletes in their advertising efforts. One type is the “no name athlete” who is just an actor meant to represent the “essence,” “the spirit” of the athlete. The second type of athlete, is the world recognized type such Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. As we all know, Gatorade has made a name for itself by attaching it’s product to the images and persona’s of famous athletes from all types of sports and is now looking to make a name for the future generations of dance-athletes.
This timely move on Gatorade’s part clearly demonstrates the growing exposure, recognition and consumption of the dance industry. Dancers become part of Gatorade’s G2 print campaign and make a historical precedence by featuring dancers in their advertising. Gatorade has recently published a series of interviews with the finalists and continues to build some brand recognition around this new breed of dance-athletes. Gatorade also continues to sponsor the show by providing sports drinks to the contestants.
But has the commercialization of dance gone too far? Has the mass marketed media coverage of these popular dance competitions had an irreversible impact on the art form of dance? Has the glimmer of the mainstream coverage tarnished the reputation of dance? Has the blurry line between dance and sports taken anything away from the foundation of dance as art?