Basketball fans glued to the first few games of the NBA Finals this week will probably see a familiar face pop up at commercial breaks. Uncle Drew is an old man who can crossover dribble and dunk a few rattle rims.
The video of Uncle Drew was never intended for broadcast in the first place. Pepsi decided to buy some prime ad time after seeing its short spot go viral online, gaining nearly 10 million YouTube views in just three weeks.
In the video, the aged basketballer Uncle Drew is really NBA Rookie of the Year Kyrie Andrew Irving, who does a pretty good job acting as an old man. According to the info on the YouTube video: Pepsi MAX went to a pick-up game in Bloomfield, NJ pretending to shoot a documentary on a basketball player named "Kevin." When his Uncle Drew came into the game, some magical things happened.
“We had no plans at all to advertise on the NBA Finals, and no media plans for this spot at all,” Pepsi Max marketer Sam Duboff, who led development of the Uncle Drew spot said to Mashable, “But people here got so excited when they saw how it performed, and we were able to produce enough metrics that finding the media budget for it just made a lot of sense.”
The broadcast ad will be a 30-second trailer of sorts for the original video, directing viewers back to the full version online via a URL.
Duboff says the Uncle Drew video was produced on a "digital budget" which is a fraction of the cost of a typical broadcast production budget.
“I think there’s always going to be a role for big budget Super Bowl ads,” Duboff says. “But when you start to see something like this resonate and perform well, it adds a whole new element to what you can do.”