Mastering the Interpretation of Brand Language: How André Stringer Captured the Essence of Gatorade’s Fast Twitch Campaign


First Appeared in LBB on April 17, 2023

André Stringer tells LBB’s April Summers about his directorial approach to Gatorade’s latest campaign, and why he views a treatment as a creative playground for exploring ideas


If you’re planning to launch a new brand, product or service, André Stringer is the first person to call. Over the course of his 30 year career, the talented writer, producer, director and co-founder of DOMO has been brought in to direct the launch of numerous new drops for the likes of global brands such as Under Armour, Apple, and Beats. His recent work for Gatorade saw him take on the role of creative conduit between the brand and creative agency, Big Spaceship. André unwrapped their ideas, translating them into an accurate and authentic brand language. Having injected the campaign with a palpable sense of raw energy and explosivity, he was able to accurately convey the true power of Gatorade’s new energy drink, Fast Twitch. 

The finished film is electric. Leading an all-star cast of pro athletes - George Kittle, Kahleah Copper, Francisco Lindor, Zion Williamson, and Stefon Diggs - André successfully steered the talent towards high impact performances, leveraging the pulsating soundtrack to create a heightened sense of interactivity and immersion. Walking LBB through his creative process, the director opens up the assimilation of the key themes and motifs behind this dynamic spot. 

LBB> At what point were DOMO brought on board and what kind of initial ideas did you have when you first saw the brief? 

André> We were brought in when Gatorade were finalising their creative approach with the agency, Big Spaceship. They had already defined their big positioning and the scripts were fun and experimental. It’s the pivotal moment when they are going from idea to execution that we thrive in. In passing the baton to me, I was tasked with understanding and interpreting their ideas, internalising and translating them, bringing the vision to life. 

LBB> How closely do these initial ideas resemble the final Fast Twitch spot?

André> Like all ideas, it’s a gradient towards the final film. You start with notions, and ideas, form. Music was the heart of the original concept — at the very beginning was this ‘clap’ notion which evolved throughout the process, serving as the foundation of the choreography that was translated through the music and the performances. 

Music drove this whole spot. It was a combination of a biological and emotional crescendo that we were trying to translate onto the screen. We wanted to demonstrate how Gatorade Fast Twitch accelerates athletes, giving them that momentum to go out and win – “igniting power”, as the tagline says.

LBB> How did you approach creating a treatment for this spot?

André> To me, a treatment is a place to play, to visualise things beforehand, in my own way. I spend a lot of time culling ideas and boiling off the stuff that feels extraneous, in order to get to the core essence of the concept. Once I get to that place, that’s when I can start shaping the performance language, the sense of energy and various other elements that aren’t necessarily the big sell but add a lot to the storytelling. I was searching for an alchemy, an opportunity for each of these athletes to really show their power—not in so much in game but instead the moments before the game.. 

LBB> A number of all star athletes are featured in this commercial – how does this casting influence the spot? 

André> The stronger your talent, the more powerful the experience is for your audience. Oftentimes it's about getting the filmmaking apparatus out of the way and letting the individuals, their character and identity to shine through. 

LBB> You have been asked to direct a number of global brand launches over the course of your career – what have you learnt from your experiences of being at the forefront of the creative process? 

André> Every brand wants to coin their own language. I’m a participant in that dialogue with the world but at the heart of it is custom tailoring of the approach: the message, the music, the visuals, the storytelling. Filmmaking is an alchemical process—it's my job to put those pieces together in a novel way that offers something ownable to the world. These pieces become the building blocks that the brands can keep working with over time. Developing the voice, setting the tone and delivering, that’s my job. 

LBB> Why should brands trust you with their storytelling? 

André> When you talk about trust, it's a really hard thing to quantify. For me, trust is a shared vision, it’s being able to listen and accurately translate. It’s about being a co-participant in the creation of their brand voice. Listening is an enormously helpful tool because if you can participate and co-create on an authentic level, in a way that remains true to the shared vision, then the work benefits from the collaboration. 

LBB> This is a fast paced, high energy 30-second spot – how did you channel the brand’s creative aspirations through the performance and aesthetic of this spot? 

André> Look at the function of the product. Fast Twitch isn’t just a Gatorade product, it fits into a cross section of storytelling that is a comprehensive vision of the athlete experience. It’s about energy, motivation and inspiration. I have to translate those objectives into the emotional world and mind of an athlete, creating a sense of immersion and interactivity through filmmaking that communicates this notion of energy and passion. Close camera work, wide lenses, the camera moving quickly to keep up with the athlete - there is a physicality to it. There’s a sense of crescendo bubbling throughout the spot which isn’t necessarily an attribute of the drink but more about the core essence of the product. Fast Twitch is about enabling your whole body to come online. When I’m filmmaking, I’m another athlete activating myself for that arena, I’m using an array of techniques to translate that level of energy. I use that shared experience, between me - as an agent in my arena - to connect with and translate the athlete’s experience for the audience.  I’m an athlete at heart. 

LBB> What was the most challenging aspect of this project? How did you overcome this? 

André> I’ve had a lot of practice shooting pro athletes so at this point in my career it’s slightly less challenging than it might’ve once been. It’s about coming to set with clarity and understanding on what you are trying to achieve and making sure it is articulated to the athletes. You have very little time and most of it is used to prepare and plan. Once you get in there you are doing the work at a breakneck pace. You don’t want anyone to get hurt or have any problems. It takes a lot of hands-on experience to find a sense of ease in this. The worst thing you can do as a director is deliver something that feels formulaic or mechanical. But most of the work done for commercials falls prey to that approach—a conservatism. The charge and energy of this product was what we were trying to translate on screen, so giving myself a strong forward momentum while leaving room to improvise was important. Spontaneity equals energy. 

LBB> André, what emotional response were you looking to evoke in audiences? 

André> We wanted to evoke a sense of hype. We wanted to channel the elevated stakes of the real world leading up to a game situation in this filmmaking experience. Magnifying it through the music, camera work, edit, and performances charge the whole way through. 

LBB> The role of sound and music plays a significant role in Fast Twitch. Sonically, what did you set out to achieve? 

André> The music wanted to be modern and reflective of our audience. What gets the audience hyped? How can the work transcend the commercial form? Early on, we talked about rhythm and tempo, defining the cadence of the film. Then it came down to real practical musical terms and how different elements would affect the pacing. I love making music and being a part of it, I did lots of sketches that informed the work that Saint John did. 

The conventions of the trap genre needed to be respected, but we wanted something more energetic and reflective of the Fast Twitch voice. Something like Super Trap.

LBB> Did this project help you hone your craft in any way? If so, how?

André> I played closer than I ever have on this project. Wider lenses, more intimate filming, right there with the athletes. Running with Stefon Diggs across the field, I’m holding the camera and we’re dancing around each other. It brings you into the experience.

LBB> André you have established long lasting relationships with the global brands like Beats and Under Armour – how do you strike a symbiotic chord with brands? 

André> This ties in to what I was saying earlier. Lasting relationships come from putting your ego aside and listening, trying to build something that effectively communicates the brand identity, the brand voice, the brand essence. And an intangible. The post-propositional. Something you feel. When you make that effort, you turn the needle in business terms.