Martin Nance: His route from the NFL to Gatorade

The sports icons flash across the screen for just an instant: Jeter, Jordan, Montana, Hamm, Abdul-Jabbar. Celtics, 49ers, Blackhawks. One after another they speed past, ticking up to 50 — all in celebration of Gatorade’s 50th anniversary.

The Christmas Day 2014 television ad was the brainchild of Martin Nance (OP, 2010), a Consortium alumnus who now manages ad campaigns for the sports beverage brand, famously invented at the University of Florida — home of the Florida Gators.

As the marketing innovation manager for PepsiCo, owner of the Gatorade brand, Nance is often the guy behind the scenes, making sure his brand’s ads get from concept to air.

“I set the strategic vision of the ad, I write the brief outlining it,” Nance told us. He’s involved in choosing directors, casting the ads and more. “I’m responsible for briefing everyone involved in that campaign, overseeing the production and media buying for that campaign.”

The job is a drastic change from his previous job: Four years in the NFL. Although he won a Super Bowl ring for being part of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ practice squad in the 2008 season, he’s never had the pleasure of a Gatorade shower on the sidelines.

A screen-capture from the Christmas Day 2014 Gatorade ad, celebrating the brand's 50th anniversary.

A screen-capture from the Christmas Day 2014 Gatorade ad, celebrating the brand’s 50th anniversary.

As a pro football player, he had the opportunity to get involved with a number of youth programs along his path from Buffalo (with the Bills), to Minnesota (and the Vikings), and finally, Pittsburgh.

“That light bulb went off and I realized I had a passion for helping people pursue opportunities,” Nance said. “Young students know the opportunities are out there, but it takes some pushing for them to get specific. Some have a short-sighted vision about how to work toward those.”

He credits The Consortium for supporting him on his transition from the gridiron to the boardroom. Nance earned his MBA from the University of Michigan in 2012.

“I would encourage incoming students to gear up for the relationships that you’re getting ready to form” at The Consortium’s Orientation Program in June, he said. “Even students that ended up at other (MBA) programs, I had great relationships with many of them. You find it’s a close-knit group. You see people as you pass through the airport.”

Nance loves hearing memories people associate with Gatorade over the past 50 years, back to the days when the drink came in one flavor: lemon-lime.

What’s Nance’s favorite flavor of Gatorade today? It’s ice punch. “I’m a big fan,” Nance says, but he’s also a fan of a flavor the public hasn’t seen in years: lemon ice, due to return this summer.