Gatorade's tremendous Peyton Manning NFL Draft ad hits you right in the feels

WATCH: Gatorade Pays Tribute to Peyton
WATCH: Gatorade Pays Tribute to Peyton

Gatorade dropped an ad starring Peyton Manning on Thursday morning, timed to coincide with the NFL Draft later that afternoon. Manning, the top overall pick of the 1998 draft, retired earlier this year following a legendary career.

It's a forced connection to a trending news event. It's a spot clearly intended to tug our little heartstrings. It's obviously designed to tap into an emotionally resonant vein and shoot a massive dose of good ol' commodity fetishism right up that mothertrucker — all in the name of selling Gatorade.

We know all this. We are "woke," as the kids say. But — dadgummit! — the spot still works like a charm.

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Called "Dear Peyton," the new Gatorade ad is inspired by Manning's apparent longtime habit of writing letters of appreciation and gratitude to important people in his life.

We see former fans, family members, former teammates and former coaches share what Manning wrote to them at various points over the past many years. They read his own words back to him over some folksy acoustic music. (There's even a harmonica! Think Bruce Springsteen, "The River" vibes.)

It's easy to get cynical about the ways in which brands glom on to the news, especially with a player whose NFL career ended months ago. But — "sincerely," as Manning signs his letters — this is one well-done spot. Now go hug someone you love.

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See photos from Peyton Manning's retirement announcement

Originally published