Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Pepsi’s ‘Uncle Drew’ Proves Audiences will Pay to Watch Branded Content in Movie Form

*Nearly 1.7 million people saw the movie “Uncle Drew” during its opening weekend, paying money to watch what some consider to be a 105-minute-long Pepsi commercial. Experts say this probably won’t be the last time we can expect audiences to pay to see branded content.

The film, which Pepsi co-produced, features Pepsi’s logo prominently in some scenes and centers the plot on a character who is synonymous with the beverage maker’s online ad campaign.

Here’s more via Washington Post:

What makes branded content different from other kinds of advertising is that it does not have a sales message, said Mara Einstein, author of “Black Ops Advertising.” Instead of selling, branded content informs and entertains. “The goal at the end of all this is when you need to go out to buy this product, you’ll buy from [the brand],” Einstein said. “But it’s a longer time frame.”

Brands have been working in this space between entertainment and salesmanship for a long time, Einstein said, dating back to the advent of soap operas. The serialized daytime dramas were frequently sponsored by companies selling household cleaning products to homemakers.

Since then, branded content has expanded to follow viewers wherever they are — in video games, movies, television shows, web-based videos, tutorials and more. Pepsi, whose branding strategy has included sponsored halftime shows, Gatorade-produced documentaries and endorsements from celebrities such as Michael Jackson, has long linked its branded content with popular culture.

uncle drew - screenshot

The “Uncle Drew” journey from YouTube to ad campaign to full-length feature film began in 2012 when NBA star Kyrie Irving first took on the role as the basketball-playing septuagenarian Uncle Drew. The first video, written and directed by Irving, racked up more than 50 million views on Pepsi’s YouTube channel. A number of sequels followed, adding to the roster basketball pros such as Kevin Love, Nate Robinson, Maya Moore, Baron Davis and Ray Allen.

Uncle Drew’s embodiment of all things street ball, such as good-humored trash-talking and performative one-upsmanship, adds an authenticity that a traditional ad wouldn’t be able to provide, said Jay Tucker, executive director of the UCLA Anderson Center for Management of Enterprise in Media, Entertainment & Sports.

“Movies have legs they didn’t have before,” Einstein said. With streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, where a movie can be called up on demand, the life span of a movie is longer than it used to be. This presents an opportunity for brands to build their relationship with consumers over an extended time, Einstein said.

There’s more of this story at Washington Post.

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