What does it mean to ask a crowd of devoted fans to forget you, to suppress your memory and hope that in the near future there is someone new to think of?
Last month, one of the most legendary careers in United States Women’s National Team history came to a close. On Wednesday evening at the Superdome in New Orleans, Abby Wambach made her final appearance on the field. Along with her departure from the game, Gatorade launched a tribute commercial that asked to world to do something extraordinarily unusual. They asked us to forget.
This one-minute spot begins with a reflective Wambach, as she takes a deep breath and cleans out her locker. She looks at letters of support, newspaper clippings, jersey stains from won games, and at the end she removes her name-plate, and leaves the locker room.
Indisputably moving, Wambach’s call to “forget I ever existed” is an unusual refrain in the sporting world. This is a world traditionally filled with athletes wrestling with relevance and the desire to engage with brands and fans way past their prime. AdAge suggests, “Look no further than LeBron James, who just inked a lifetime endorsement deal with Nike in a move that suggests he will still be appearing in ads after he hangs up his basketball shoes.”
When I think about authenticity and marketing campaigns this is a major winner. Her sincerity and solace is inspiring as she reminds young girls to “Forget the medals won, the records broken and the sacrifices made… I want to leave a legacy where the ball keeps rolling forward, where the next generation accomplishes things so great that I am no longer remembered.”
In honor of this unparalleled commercial, I hope that we may forget the woman, but remember the message.