Tag Archives: celebrity endorsements

Uncle Drew – The Movie Hits the Big Screen

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:

  1. This is a great summer case study when students are restless and need some screen time.
  2. Discuss the benefits and expenses of branding. How did the original Uncle Drew accomplish this for Pepsi?
  3. Watch the movie trailer: https://youtu.be/Ept29ceiVfk
  4. If you have not seen the original viral videos, here they are:
    1. Part 1: https://youtu.be/8DnKOc6FISU
    2. Part 2: https://youtu.be/MLyvkBifQ3w
    3. Part 3: https://youtu.be/spDdO_ZB-lE
    4. Part 4: https://youtu.be/ZY6GAOPGuPs
    5. Interview with Drew: https://youtu.be/sW2sobJXI4s
  5. 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?

Source: Brandchannel.com

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Outdoor Ads and Serena Williams

Serena Williams is one of the world’s greatest tennis players of all time. And, as a new mother, her husband and baby girl have proclaimed that she is also the “greatest momma of all time!” (G.M.O.A.T) They made the announcement in a very public way, too – giant billboards!

Using a series of four billboards outside Palm Springs, Calif., the billboards coincided with William’s return to competitive tennis as she competes in her first professional match since giving birth. While the billboards were charming and included photos of baby Olympia, the billboards also lend weight to one of Alexis Ohanian’s (William’s husband) business holdings. Ohanian used an outdoor advertising company named AdQuick to design and place the ads; he has a financial stake in the company.

It’s a lovely, and clever, play as AdQuick brings online tools to outdoor advertising to make the process of buying and measuring easier and more transparent. The company aims to solve two problems with outdoor advertising – getting billboards designed is usually a slow, low-tech process and it can be difficult to measure the impact of billboard campaigns.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the various promotional tactics that can be used for launching a product.
  2. Have students come up with tactics and list all the tactics on the white board (ex: billboards, print, direct mail, etc.).
  3. Discuss the use of billboards and other outdoor advertising.
  4. Divide students into groups to work on this exercise.
  5. For a product of their choosing, have each team develop a creative billboard. Make sure they define the target market, key message, and billboard location.
  6. Note: Look up creative billboards online and show several in class to spark ideas. Many ideas can be found by doing a Google image search for “creative billboards.”

Source:  Nudd, T. (27 February, 2018). Those cute ads with Serena Williams and her baby are also ads for the billboard company. Ad Week.

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Top Marketable Athletes of 2017

Athletes and sports events play a major role in marketing. An individual celebrity who endorses a product can often be seen as an effective spokesperson.  But not always… Think back on athletes who have been dropped as spokespeople after a fall from grace such as Tiger Wood, Lance Armstrong, Michael Vick, etc.

What does it take to make the public view an athlete as a positive role-model, and when do companies employ these people? According to Nielsen Research’s N-Score Talent Tracker, in order for a celebrity to be marketable she or he needs to be likeable, influential, and stylish, savvy on social media, and have a strong public following. Not an easy feat to achieve when the athlete does not always have a home court advantage.

The following is the list of the top marketable athletes in the U.S. in 2017, topped by two strong female athletes:

  1. Serena Williams (N-Score 83) – for winning the Australian Open while pregnant. Her N-Score of 83 topped all pro athletes, even after taking maternity leave and not competing for the remainder of 2017.
  2. Venus Williams (N-Score 79) – landed the number two position thanks to a great comeback tennis season with top results at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
  3. LeBron James (N-Score 76) – not a stranger to the top list as he led the Cleveland Cavaliers to their third straight NBA Final.
  4. Eli Manning (N-Score 76) – for his two-time Super Bowl MVP.
  5. Tom Brady (N-Score 75) – a four-time Super Bowl MVP.

It’s not always easy for any celebrity to become an effective brand ambassador. The celebrity’s built-in fan base usually comes with specific consumer behaviors and purchases.

Who is your preferred athlete to be a brand spokesperson?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Show the Nielsen rating article: http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2017/tops-of-2017-pro-athlete-marketability.html
  2. Discuss the communication process: sender, encoding, message, medium, decoding, and receiver.
  3. What role do celebrity endorsements play in the communications and marketing roles?
  4. What features make an athlete an effective spokesperson for a product or brand?
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team identify 10 different athletes that they have seen endorse products.
  6. Are these successful, or unsuccessful, spokespeople?
  7. Finally, select a number of industries or products and have students discuss which athletes best fit the product.

Source:  Nielsen Research

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