Branding knows no bounds. Well, at least it knows when it’s “in-bounds” in this case (on the basketball court)…
It’s here – the Uncle Drew movie has finally arrived and fans have been ecstatic! What began eight years ago as a series of short, online scripted videos by Pepsi MAX has now hit the big screen as a full movie starring NBA star Kyrie Irving as the elderly (but still talented) basketball player Uncle Drew.
The story focuses on how one of the characters drained his life savings to enter the Rucker Classic street ball tournament in Harlem, only to see his longtime rival take over his team. Desperate to win the tournament and regain his money, he stumbles upon “the man, the myth, the legend” – Uncle Drew! What ensues is a road trip to round up Uncle Drew’s old basketball squad and prove that the old guys still have what it takes to be winners on the court. With a supporting cast including great players such as Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson, and Lisa Leslie, the movie features quick moves and plenty of laughs.
The short films are still winners online. All quickly went viral and have remained fan favorites:
- Part 1, May 2012, 52 million views. Pepsi MAX visits a New Jersey pick-up game where Uncle Drew first appears.
- Part 2, October 2012, 13 million views. Uncle Drew is on a mission to get his old team back together in Los Angeles.
- Part 3, October 2013, 22 million views. Uncle Drew visits an underground jazz club in Chicago to convince his old point guard to revisit the game.
- Part 4, November 2015, 15 million views. Uncle Drew is in Miami settling old scores.
This is likely one of the largest brand promotion projects done by Pepsi. It’s a Pepsi-funded movie based on a character and concept featured in its soda commercials. Like Pepsi, other companies have been increasing their spending on branded content – films that look more like editorial content than advertising. Clever move – consumers accept the story more easily than accept advertising.
It’s all about the buckets, young blood.
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- This is a great summer case study when students are restless and need some screen time.
- Discuss the benefits and expenses of branding. How did the original Uncle Drew accomplish this for Pepsi?
- Watch the movie trailer: https://youtu.be/Ept29ceiVfk
- If you have not seen the original viral videos, here they are:
- Divide students into teams. Have each team discuss the pros and cons of this brand extension and movie. What should Pepsi, and other companies, do next?