- Pepsi launched a national TV spot starring the NBA's Kyrie Irving to promote the release of the feature film "Uncle Drew" on June 29, per a press release. Uncle Drew, an older man with exceptional basketball skills, is a brand character played by Irving that Pepsi first debuted in 2012 and has continued to feature prominently in its advertising.
- The latest commercial, called "Timeless," comes as part of Pepsi's ongoing "Generations" campaign that launched earlier this year. The spot depicts Uncle Drew across different decades "getting buckets" while drinking from limited-edition, vintage Pepsi cans that are available to consumers this summer.
- Videos featuring the Uncle Drew character have frequently gone viral and have grabbed more than 100 million YouTube views, collectively, Pepsi said. In the film, to be released by Lionsgate's Summit Entertainment, Uncle Drew and Dax (Lil Rel Howery) go on a road trip to locate Drew's old basketball crew and win a streetball tournament. The film was produced by Temple Hill in association with Pepsi Productions.
Pepsi is linking the massive popularity of Uncle Drew to its Generations campaign in a bid to draw additional consumer interest to the marketing push, which spans the entire Pepsi portfolio, and also generate hype for the brand character's upcoming movie.
Generations celebrates the beverage brand's 120-year history and has frequently emphasized nostalgia, including through the latest ad, which shows Uncle Drew across several decades with throwback hairstyles and clothing, along with retro-packaged Pepsi products. Pepsi has been spotlighting vintage brand gear following the relaunch of its Pepsi Stuff loyalty program earlier this year, including through a recent TV campaign with the country musician Dierks Bentley.
The "Uncle Drew" movie is an interesting creative gamble from Pepsi and its partners. While the character has frequently been a hit online, it's unclear whether people will be willing to pay the full ticket price to watch a feature-length film centered on him. The initial trailer for the film released in February managed to rack up 3.8 million YouTube views in just two days. Pepsi has also experimented before in extending the Uncle Drew brand, including through an e-commerce website it launched in February last year around the NBA All-Star Game.
Hollywood-style filmmaking is playing a larger role in marketers' strategies, but few, if any, brands are going as far as producing a feature-length film. Others, like Taco Bell and Spotify, have instead created fake film trailers to promote products launches.