Be Like Mike turns 25

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ALL BALL NERVE CENTERMichael Jordan is one of the most popular athletes of all-time, and while that’s largely because of his dominance on the basketball court, there are other factors as well. Jordan was also involved in several advertising campaigns and off-court projects that, even years later, remain iconic.

According to, yesterday was the 25th anniversary of one of Jordan’s most memorable ads of all-time, Gatorade’s “Be Like Mike” commercial. As Darren Rovell writes, Gatorade came up with the memorable jingle in just a few days…

[Ad exec Bernie] Pitzel wanted a chance to do something iconic. OK, the Gatorade execs said. So the ad went from idea to final version in three days.

Pitzel’s original idea was to show kids looking up to Jordan while playing the song “I Wan’na Be Like You” from the 1967 film “The Jungle Book” that Disney had recently rereleased. But Pitzel said Disney wanted Gatorade to pay $350,000 for a five-week run. At the time, the cost was too much.

So Pitzel went back to the drawing board, sat down at his favorite Italian restaurant, and came up with the “Be Like Mike” lyrics on a napkin in four hours. Pitzel put the lyrics to four local music houses and quickly settled on jingle specialists Ira Antelis and Steve Shafer.

The result was the commercial song that the world came to love, which was then paired with Jordan and kids, and the spot was quickly shot. The rest is history.

And ever since, people have wanted to be like Mike…

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