By: Alli McIlvain
Pepsi has recently stepped out of its usual guerrilla-style advertisements in an effort to reach a new audience; it paid off. A little over a year ago Pepsi MAX released an advertisement featuring professional basketball player Kyrie Irving on YouTube. The video quickly went viral and has reached over 26,000 viewers, with its sequel reaching almost 9,000. This “Uncle Drew” video and its instant success have left consumers wondering what’s next for Pepsi MAX.
The five minute video, titled “Pepsi MAX & Kyrie Irving Present: ‘Uncle Drew,’” was posted on YouTube May 18, 2012, just days after Irving received the NBA Rookie of the Year award. It begins with Uncle Drew (Irving dressed up as an old man) reminiscing on basketball in the olden days. He then attends his “nephew’s” pick-up basketball game. The players on the court are actual players, not actors, who really believe that Irving is an old man. Uncle Drew flaunts his basketball skills, much to the astonishment of the crowd that is full of people drinking Pepsi MAX. The video ends with clips of Irving’s transformation from the talented, young athlete he is to Uncle Drew.
Released a month later, in “Pepsi MAX & Kyrie Irving Present: ‘Uncle Drew: Chapter 2,’” Irving once again dresses up as Uncle Drew and surprises a court full of street basketball players. However, this time Uncle Drew brings along his old teammate, “Wes,” who is none other than professional basketball player Kevin Love. This time, both Irving and Love school the young basketball players in front of an excited crowd of Pepsi MAX drinkers. As in the first video, this clip ends with footage of both athletes transforming into old men.
This video was a success for many reasons. One reason was because it targeted a younger audience. Initially putting the video on YouTube gave Pepsi MAX the ability to make an advertisement with a fully developed story that was sure to be seen by teenagers and young adults alike. It also attracted enough attention to earn a 30 second cut of the video as a commercial on television during the NBA Finals. Additionally, the video resonated with many males 18 to 25 years old and has even spawned the terms “I get buckets” and “young blood.” Lastly, the video was successful because of the message. Pepsi MAX claims to be “a zero calorie cola in disguise” which ties the whole concept of professional athletes in disguise into the product Pepsi is trying to sell.
The success of these videos has left consumers wondering what the next step is for Pepsi. It is safe to say that the “Uncle Drew” videos are not coming back after their yearlong hiatus. However, Pepsi has opened the door for innovative advertisements, and everyone is excited to see what will be next.