Pepsi Case study UNCLE DREW by The Marketing Arm

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Industry Soft Drinks
Media Case study
Market United States
Agency The Marketing Arm
Director Jonathan Klein
Copywriter Marc Gilbar
Producer Angie Revel
Editor Damion Clayton At Rock Paper Scissors
Released May 2013


Cannes Lions 2013
Branded content & entertaiment lions Branded Entertainment; Best fictional program, series or film where a client has successfully created a drama, comedy or miniseries around a product or brand Silver

Credits & Description

Type of entry: Branded Entertainment
Category: Best fictional program, series or film where a client has successfully created a drama, comedy or miniseries around a product or brand
Advertiser: PEPSI
Product/Service: PEPSI MAX
Creative Director: Marc Gilbar (Davie Brown Entertainment/The Marketing Arm)
Copywriter: Marc Gilbar (Davie Brown Entertainment/The Marketing Arm)
Account Director: Tom Meyer (Davie Brown Entertainment/The Marketing Arm)
Account Executive: Abby Jackson (Davie Brown Entertainment/The Marketing Arm)
Director: Jonathan Klein ()
Producer: Angie Revel ()
Director Of Photography: Brian Thomas ()
Special Effects Make-Up: Ed French ()
Editorial: (Rock Paper Scissors)
Editor: Damion Clayton ()
Music: (Beacon Streat Studios)
Sound Mix: (Heard Ciry)
Social Media: (Fanscape)
Describe the campaign/entry
Branded entertainment in the U.S. is well entrenched in the marketing/advertising industry as large to small brands are converting media and production resources to aggressively engage and entertain target consumers in non-traditional ways.
Consequently, the clutter surrounding branded entertainment has increased dramatically in all channels with the most activity in the digital space; making it difficult for brands to break out. There are no significant restrictions or regulations in this market that would impair the ability of a brand to create and distribute branded entertainment content.
Drive awareness and engagement for Pepsi MAX using branded entertainment.
- Entertain, excite and engage viewers.
- Deliver an authentic experience that was bold, clever and in a unique MAX voice.
- Establish a new 'zero-calorie cola in disguise' attitude.
- Create a platform that challenges people's expectations of what a zero-calorie cola tastes like.
Bring to life the 'in disguise' metaphor of Pepsi Max in a real life experiential stunt that can also be used as content for the brand.
Our idea was to disguise an NBA player as an old man and take him to a real pick-up basketball game and film the entire experience.
We created the character of 'Uncle Drew,' a former baller who laments the absence of the 'fundamentals' in the modern game of basketball.
The short film combines traditional cinematic story-telling with stunt marketing. We introduce Uncle Drew as a real person and thus the audience experiences the magic of having witnessed him take the court in person. Only after he dominates the game do we reveal his true identity.
A small social campaign drove initial awareness and enthusiasm for the video which consequently went viral.
The goal was to drive awareness and generate views to spark positive conversation and buzz for the brand and the video.

Our team worked with relevant influencers and bloggers to find creative ways to showcase the video and targeted features on social content sharing sites (Complex, COED Magazine, Mashable, Yardbarker) and Facebook ad integrations, which moved the needle with more views.

We added buzz with exclusives and merchandise giveaways with sites like Starpulse, Hip Hop DX, The Big Lead and Black Sports Online.

With a jumpstart social media campaign (2 weeks), the content grew organically and took on a life of its own.

We quickly surpassed our initial goals:

Initial: 490,000
After 2 weeks:

After 2 weeks:

Initial: 80-100,000
After 2 weeks: 8.3m (and climbing)

As the video went viral, editorial coverage followed with positive stories in/on
ESPN SportsCenter, Fortune, USA Today, NBC Sports, Grantland, NBA TV, The Huffington Post, Reddit, Mashable and Advertising Age.

The social commentary was as important as the video metrics and editorial coverage.
The video was shared and commented on with positive reviews and chatter about who was disguised as Uncle Drew (revealed at the end of the video) and appreciation toward Pepsi Max for bringing it to life.

Uncle Drew and his phrases became a part of the sports lexicon ('I get buckets!' and 'Those youngbloods don't…') and were constantly repeated via tweets and announcer highlights (when showing Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers) on ESPN, the preeminent sports network in the U.S.

With 22m+ views, 'Uncle Drew' ranked as the second most-watched ad on YouTube for 2012 and in the top 50 most-watched viral videos globally for the year.