Pepsi and Partners Help Pump Up Fans for UNCLE DREW Debut


Uncle Drew

Six years after Pepsi first brought the fan-favorite Uncle Drew character to the court in May 2012 as a digital episodic series, UNCLE DREW will hit theaters on June 29. In that time it has transformed into an episodic franchise featuring special guests and NBA talent of the past and present.

Having built the bucket-getting hoops-mad character—played by NBA star Kyrie Irving in prosthetic makeup—into a viral hit and one of the most successful branded content campaigns of the last decade, the PepsiCo and Lionsgate marketers promoting its big screen debut are working hard to keep that virality while also making it relevant for different audiences.

With an 81% “want to see” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Indie Wire also gave it an advance thumbs up, writing: “Athletes aren’t known to be great actors, but Uncle Drew inspires such killer stuff from its cast of NBA legends that even Shaq delivers.”

As the key brand behind the branded entertainment concept, Pepsi is promoting across its digital channels, including a TV campaign (above) and  Twitter:

Helping stoke fan interest, a Spotify playlist is playing up the old school vs. new school rivalry that is the franchise’s mainstay:

American Express cardholders got a sneak peek at the movie this week:

The Players’ Tribune, the sports media hub co-founded by Derek Jeter, is promoting sponsored (and animated) content featuring a letter from Uncle Drew. Titled “Dear Youngbloods,” he imparts the fundamentals of the game (and life): be ready, there is no offseason, get tough and never quit.

The first trailer, which gave a peek at the cast (besides Irving, Lil Rel Howery, Shaquille O’Neal, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson, Chris Webber, Erica Ash, Lisa Leslie, Tiffany Haddish and Nick Kroll) was released on April 26. It has been viewed more than 8.8 million times since then—including 3.8 million YouTube views in the first two days alone.

Kyrie Irving, of course, has been teasing the release while also balancing his other partnerships, including Nike and General Mills, which gave Uncle Drew getting his own Wheaties box:

Shaquille O’Neal, for his part, has promoted via his partnership with The General: