NBA’s Wade Fronts Gatorade ‘Freaks’ DC Comics Online Strip

During early June’s NBA Finals, sports drink and NBA partner Gatorade focused on its ‘Freaks’ partnership with DC Comics in the form of an online animated strip starring Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade.


The branded digital ‘Freaks’ animated comic strips are hosted on a new website at www.gatorade.com.


Wade’s Miami Heat outfit may have been beaten to the title this year by the San Antonio Spurs, but the athlete’s starring role in the re-imagined comic book version of his journey to become a professional player and NBA super star is a fascinating way to blend a brand ambassador with an innovative media partnership.


Wade’s animated digital ‘The Visionary’ strip follows in the footsteps of previous online comics featuring NFL stars J.J. Watt’s and Cam Newton – each telling a story of how they became such special impact players and amazing athletes.


Wade’s comic narrative explores his on-court vision and the unique way he reads a game, while fellow ‘Freaks’ comics storylines were developed about how 2012 AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt and 2011 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Cam Newton became stars and what each believes fuels their respective pursuits of greatness.


Watt’s ‘MegaWatt’ story focuses on how he transformed into a dominant lineman who strikes fear in the heart of opposing quarterbacks and reveals that he believes the secret to his success is hard work on and off the field dating back to high school.


While Newton’s comic features his alter ego ‘The Blender’ – a multi-faceted athlete who can hurt opponents with his arm and legs – and tells a young fan to take his advice and not to replicate his favourite athletes, but to learn from them and adapt their styles to his abilities.


Newton, it turns out, learned this lesson from his father at a young age and incorporated his favourite players’ skills to become “The Blender.”




While Gatorade’s somewhat childish anti-LeBron James Twitter bickering may have stolen much of the brand activation headlines at this years NBA Finals (see case study), we prefer to focus on this kind of independently engaging branded content.

Of course, we have digital comics before as a platform for partnership activation – including Audi’s recent tie-in with Iron Man (see case study) and Vodafone’s McLaren F1 campaign in Spain (see case study). But this partnership feels like a particularly excellent fit in terms of creative style and tone.


The DC Comics creative is just one strand of Wade’s athlete ambassador work for Gatorade over the last 12 months.


Campaigns he has fronted this year include the YouTube sensation built around the brand’s ‘High School Locker Room Replacement’ stunt.



Of course, other brands have run various variants on this themes: a surprise stunt that gives something back to hardworking, deserving group of youngsters or a deserving community, but when done well and when it feels genuine it remains a powerful means of engagement.


The initiative, called ‘We Are All-Stars’ and developed by ad agency TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles, broke during the NBA All Star Weekend and this far as racked up 1.4m YouTube views.


This year Wade also featured in Gatorade’s ‘Fixation’ blockbuster TV commercial alongside rival Kevin Durant.





Gatorade Freaks Comic Website



Gatorade Website



Gatorade Twitter




NBA Website





Featured Showcases