Pepsi Max’s viral marketing campaign stars second year NBA standout Kyrie Irving, who is quickly establishing himself as one of the most crafty and dynamic point guards in the league. The concept centers around applying heavy prosthetic makeup and outfitting a wig to Kyrie’s face/head, transforming him from a youthful kid to an aging yet wise baller named Uncle Drew. He then heads down to a local public court and joins in a game of competitive pickup basketball, purposefully playing terribly for the first half until he begins throwing down show-stopping dunks and performing all manner of crazy juking maneuvers.
These online videos are so successful and engaging because it’s an absolute joy watching Irving walk around portraying an old-school grizzled basketball veteran. Uncle Drew is pensive, a wise sage of the game who constantly reminisces about the old days, proclaiming “these young ballers out here…got all those chique headphones and all this rappity hippity hop, all these flashy shoes, these guys don’t practice the fundamentals.” His constant referral to young people as “young bloods” is one of the best aspects of the video.
For the first half of the games, Uncle Drew is slow, un-athletic, and possesses virtually no hand-eye coordination whatsoever. Once Kyrie gets tired of the act, he shows everyone his true colors, blazing past defenders, delivering colossal dunks, and shooting lights out three pointers, all while being dressed to resemble a man probably in his mid-60s.
For his second video outing, Uncle Drew once again hits the street courts, this time with his old teammate Wes (Kevin Love, also in very convincing makeup), who apparently works at a hardware store. Bill Russell also makes an appearance, echoing Uncle Drew’s constant saying “get buckets.” Wes and Love, both hobbled with age and fatigue, take a while to warm up, and eventually begin combining for alley-oops and thunderous pick-n-rolls. It’s sheer fun, especially viewing the reactions of the other players involved in the game as they watch a 65-year old man leap 30 + inches into the air before performing a one-handed spinning dunk.
Obviously, these videos are pretty staged, especially considering everyone in the crowd just happens to be sipping on an ice-cold Pepsi Max throughout the entirety of the segment. Within the video description, the claim is made that the producers approached these public games under the guise that they needed to shoot some b-roll basketball footage.
This viral video campaign demonstrates Pepsi Max’s willingness to innovate and Kyrie Irving’s endless sense of humor. The Uncle Drew character currently has his own Twitter account and recently appeared on ESPN’s First Take. It’s a brilliant and hilarious way to subtly advertise low-calorie soda, and has garnered a sizable online viewership. Each of the two videos include footage of Kyrie (and in the second, Kevin Love), sitting in the makeup chair undergoing their aging transformation, along with blooper outtakes.
I personally cannot wait for more videos depicting Uncle Drew and Company teaching some “young bloods” the fundamentals of basketball.
- Kyrie Irving talks on new ‘Uncle Drew’ spot (espn.go.com)