Pepsi Steps Up ‘Uncle Drew’ Marketing Ahead Of Film Release

Pepsi has released a new “Uncle Drew” spot featuring NBA star Kyrie Irving that ties the upcoming film and Pepsi’s Generations campaign together.

Released on Tuesday, “Timeless” shows Kyrie Irving as Uncle Drew, drinking Pepsi and playing basketball through the 1970s, 80s, 90s and modern times. The vignette features a limited-edition retro Pepsi can that will be available this summer.

Showing Pepsi through the decades is clearly a nod to the brand’s “Generations” ad campaign that debuted during Super Bowl LII. In the upcoming film Uncle Drew, the aging basketball legend must team up with members of his and the current generation in his quest to win the Rucker Classic streetball tournament and prove he’s still got it.

The character of Uncle Drew—a feisty old man with serious basketball skills—was created in 2012 for Pepsi Max in 2012. Irving, donning age make-up, hustled some local basketball players in a pick-up game in tune with the Pepsi Max slogan, “zero calorie soda in disguise.”

Irving’s acting debut went viral, and Pepsi responded with three more Uncle Drew chapters followed by 11 spots timed around NBA All-Star Games, NBA Finals and the NBA Playoffs.

While conceived by Pepsi, the character has taken on a life of its own. In fact, Irving’s fans have been known to yell “Uncle Drew” at his games. Pepsi is counting on this enthusiasm to translate into “buckets” of ticket sales when the film hits theaters June 29.

While Uncle Drew was made by PepsiCo’s Creators League Studios, it remains to be seen how much Pepsi will actually appear in the film itself.

PepsiCo recently announced additional investment in its marketing strategy to keep up with its life-long competitor Coca-Cola. After a slight drop in North American sales during the first quarter, the food and beverage giant expresses plans to “step up investments” in its core carbonated soft drink division.

Report: National TV Ad Revenue Up 4 Percent

Standard Media Index (SMI)—an advertising intelligence firm specializing in calculating ad spend and ad revenue for several international markets—has released its April national advertising revenue report. In the report SMI notes, most importantly, that national TV ad revenue is up 4 percent in April YoY. Other notable upticks were in sports, primetime original programming, and cable news.

In addition to national TV seeing growth, the digital, radio, out-of-home ad revenues were up at 18 percent, 13 percent, and 45 percent, respectively, with only print seeing a significant drop at -33 percent YoY.

Primetime original programming—which is defined as new episodes of drama, original comedy and reality shows across both broadcast and cable—ad revenue was up 11 percent YoY in April. The big winners for broadcast television include singing shows American Idol and The Voice taking in $48 million and $60 million, respectively, Empire, and Scandal. For cable, AMC’s The Walking Dead earned $17 Million.

SMI also notes that reboots, prequels and spinoffs were a big trend in broadcast TV programming. In terms of ad costs per 30-second spots: “the four most expensive comedy programs this month were: CBS’ The Big Bang Theory charging $267,267 … followed by NBC’s revival of Will & Grace at $205,829, then CBS’ prequel Young Sheldon at $183,408, and ABC’s revival Roseanne at $167,159.” ABC canceled Roseanne last week, but there are reports a spinoff (without Roseanne Barr) could be in the works.

Cable news was also a winner, the report says, “the big three cable news networks—FOX News, CNN, and MSNBC—have maintained the strong growth they have seen this year, earning 24 percent more ad revenue than April last year.”

Overall, cable channels’ ad revenue was up 6 percent while broadcast channels remained static. It’s important to recognize a report like this is not all-encompassing in terms of TV watching. Note that HBO and Netflix would not be included in this report because these companies are subscriber-based and do not run ads.

To compile the report SMI sources “advertising spend data directly from major media holding agencies.”

‘Deadpool 2’ Regains Top Global Box Office Position As ‘Solo’ Slips

Deadpool 2 retook the number one global box office spot this weekend thanks to creative marketing, a strong opening in Japan and dwindling viewership for Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Compared to its predecessor, Deadpool 2 holds its own in the box office and, not adjusting for exchange rates, is only three percent behind the original in like-for-like markets. The Ryan Reynolds vehicle is now an established film franchise, which may have given its marketing team license to go all in for strange and unusual campaign ideas.

“I think the marketing for Deadpool 2 was even more creative, daring and original than it was for the first installment,” Karie Bible, box office analyst and film historian at Exhibitor Relations, told AListDaily.

The character of Deadpool is self-aware, which gives him license to break the fourth wall, barge into other franchises and talk about pop culture that doesn’t necessarily exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Illustrating this idea, 20th Century Fox created custom DVD and Blue-Ray sleeves for Walmart shelves that replaced all film characters with Deadpool. The character video-bombed a birthday wish video from Hugh Jackman and in one promotional video arrived at the home of soccer star David Beckham. Espolòn tequila staged a Twitter takeover in which crudely-modified ads were shared, replacing brand names with its own, a person’s face with Deadpool’s and product images with bottles of Espolòn. For the music video “Ashes,” Céline Dion sings on stage while Deadpool dances in stiletto heels. When he asks for a second take of the song, Dion tells him off and calls him Spider-man.

Marketing for the film also included a wide variety of engagement tactics from answering Google questions to appearing in 7-Eleven stores via augmented reality. 20th Century Fox invited fans to join “Deadpool Core,” a parody of the old Mickey Mouse Club that offered home projects like coloring pages and Valentines.

In the US, Deadpool 2 dropped roughly 56 percent for the weekend ending June 3, but Bible says that is normal for tentpole IPs or comic book movies, especially on this particular weekend after Memorial Day. These types of movies tend to be “front-loaded,” she said, meaning that studios expect a large turnout from fans at the beginning, followed by more casual moviegoers that don’t mind waiting to see it later.

“Most people are off work on Memorial Day weekend, which is why it tends to yield big box office,” said Bible. “The next week people are back at work and it is pretty normal to see a drop.”

Bible pointed out that the original Deadpool dropped 57.4 percent in the second weekend and the sequel dropped 65.4 percent in the second frame, which she said is not a vast difference.

“Another reason for the post-Memorial Day panic may well be the poor reception for Solo,” she noted. “[Also] the Johnny Knoxville movie Action Point was the lowest opening in wide release of his career.”

While Deadpool 2‘s creative advertising strategy undoubtedly spread awareness for the film’s release, there is no hard and fast rule for film marketing, Bible said.

“Often times a great deal of hand-wringing, anxiety and analysis (Monday morning quarterbacking) happens as people attempt to put their finger on what hit or missed and why,” said Bible. “Essentially the movie business is a calculated gamble. It always has been and always will be. There is no precise formula or guarantee of success.”

With Deadpool 2 leading the global box office, studios may be more willing to take such a gamble on R-rated comic book films.

“Time will tell if the success of the R-rated Deadpool is a stand-alone phenomenon or a template for future films,” said Bible. “It will have to depend on the film. Last year Logan was R-rated and opened with $88.4 million before going on to a domestic gross of $226.2 million.”

Cannes Lions: Interview With Content Director Charlotte Williams

Written by Steven Wong

This year, Cannes Lions is working to make the festival more relevant for brands and agencies, putting the correlation between creativity and share price front-and-center.

“Creatives are at the heart of the festival,” said Charlotte Williams, content director for Cannes Lions, “and [we’re] making sure that it’s all focused on the work rather than the celebrities.”

In previous years celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Demi Lovato were invited to be speakers at Cannes Lions, but in 2018 the festival is taking a step away from celebrity to make room for brand creatives from Amazon, Apple and Uber, which are first-time speakers at the event. Rising Chinese companies such as Tencent, Alibaba and iProspect, whose global impact is being felt, will also be present.

Given that the event’s core audience is creative agencies that want to connect with clients, attracting more brand advertisers was a “no-brainer” for further distinguishing Cannes from other marketing festivals and conferences.

“We’ve designed a program where more creatives are put on stage—more people responsible for the work—than before. We thought it was better to have the creators and brand marketers on stage” explained Williams.

The festival is expecting over 70 brands in attendance, sharing their approaches to make creativity work and ROI for their marketing efforts. Cannes Lions is also being streamlined from eight to five days with its content and awards organized around nine different tracks that cover sectors such as communication, craft, entertainment, experience, impact and reach.

Cannes is also hosting an inaugural Marketers’ Summit developed in coordination with the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) to discuss predictions and trends.

“It’s about the sweet spot of creative effectiveness—seeing the value of creative work, and how it can drive growth,” said Williams about the Summit.

Exclusive to marketers, The Marketers’ Summit will include a closed-door event called the CMO Growth Council, an initiative by the ANA where about 30 marketers sit together and discuss issues that include measurement, brand purpose, the future of marketing and more.

The event is attracting some notable marketers to speak, including Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard, and Matt Biespiel, the former McDonald’s senior director for global brand development, who is helping to curate the Cannes Lions Masters program for brands with a focus on future consumer trends.

Williams said that the festival will continue addressing ongoing themes such as diversity, especially with the rise of initiatives such as #MeToo and #TimesUp, with submissions around LGBTQ topics, toxic masculinity and the role of brands in social movements.

“We’re looking more at the measurement of diversity initiatives and the hard end of it,” said Williams.

An example of this is a session hosted by HP and Omnicom Group which will discuss how data measurement can help businesses improve their diversity initiatives, thereby enhancing their creative output and become more relevant to customers.

On the technological side, the application of blockchain and the opportunities it presents for the creative industry is a major focus at Lions Innovation. Augmented reality will have a strong presence, where virtual reality and artificial intelligence were the primary technological themes of previous years.

Other major topics include future consumers, and how marketers can be everywhere at once and personalize at scale.

Meanwhile, the Entertainment track will cover how brands can better collaborate and co-create with artists from music, film and more.

According to Williams, this year’s show is more feature-facing in terms of predictions and trends, with a strong focus on people taking away tangible learnings from each session.

The evolution of the Cannes Lions Festival to remain relevant for its attendees is in step with the changing marketing landscape.

“Creativity is about more than just creative agencies nowadays, and I think everyone would agree that there are more players,” said Williams.

“There are entertainment companies, new production houses, up-and-coming shops, technology providers, innovators and startups. It’s about recognizing all the different players in the ecosystem, which is much more complex than it was 10 years ago.”

Movie Marketing For ‘Hereditary’ Followed Audiences Home

Production company A24 is recreating the weird little dolls from its film Hereditary and letting audiences bring them home—without telling them.

In the upcoming horror film Hereditary, a girl named Charlie makes disturbing dolls out of craft items and trash. The film’s production company, A24, is using Charlie’s unusual creativity to their marketing advantage by offering real-life dolls on an Etsy page.

The dolls aren’t actually for sale—despite the page saying Charlie sold 18 of them—but have been sent to a number of online creators and journalists as promotional items.

After a midnight screening of Hereditary in March, audience goers woke up the next morning to find one of Charlie’s dolls left on their doorstep. Recipients claimed that the dolls must have been hand-delivered—adding to the creepiness factor—as they did not have any postage.

Since Hereditary focuses on a twisted family, A24 is also offering a calendar of “Evil Grandmas” on its official website.

A24, it seems, will go to any lengths to market the “evil” aspects of its films, going so far as to partner with the very real Temple of Satan to promote The Witch in 2016.

Creepy dolls have become a horror genre staple thanks to the likes of Child’s Play and Master of Puppets, no doubt causing audiences to develop pediophobia (a fear of dolls) if they hadn’t already.

Adding dolls to the film marketing strategy helps bridge the gap between fantasy and reality. Readers might remember seeing eerie little stick figurines at the movie theaters ahead of The Blair Witch Project, for example.

Last summer, horror fans were invited to find 13 Annabelle doll replicas from Mezco Toyz hidden around the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum in New York’s Time Square. Those who spotted all 13 dolls got the chance to win tickets to an advanced screening of Annabelle: Creation. Fans can still take home the Annabelle replicas through Mezco Toyz’ website or insert the possessed doll into photos through the film’s official website.

E3 Going Through “More Evolutionary Than Revolutionary” Identity Shift

The Electronic Entertainment Expo is around the corner, and in its second year of opening its doors to the public, E3 is still going through some growing pains.

“This year, it’s going to be more evolutionary than revolutionary,” said Mat Piscatella, an analyst for NPD, to AListDaily.

“E3 is becoming a hub for a lot of media activity, but right now they’re realizing that they need to evolve,” added Carter Rogers, research manager at SuperData. “They’re trying to be more like PAX, more like Gamescom.”

From Media To Gamers

Ths show is finding its footing as a consumer-facing event after a shaky start last year, Piscatella predicts.

“I felt really bad for the fans that came out last year and put down all that money to stand in those lines and have that experience,” he said about the 2017 show. “E3 is becoming more and more of a fan show, and eventually it’ll go that way—like what happened with Gamescom. That feels like the right way for it to go.”

This shift toward fan engagement is further pushing game publishers to change up their pre-E3 strategy.

“The methods of communication are changing quite a bit. All the big announcements happen leading up to the show, with the show itself being more of an interview/showcase, especially with the fans and influencers on the floor,” Piscatella added. “Companies are shifting focus so they’re talking to those people as much as they’re talking to traditional press outlets.”

However, Rogers predicts that the shifting audience will prove the fundamental building blocks of the show solid.

“I don’t see huge change in how they’re presenting demos now,” Rogers clarified. “They’re still going to want people in the public to have a good experience, the same as you would with someone in the press.”

Publishers Focus On Offsite Events

As more people crowd into the LA Convention Center for the show, many of the larger publishers like EA and Microsoft are crowding out of it.

“Triple-A publishers are going to continue to move away from the event itself,” Rogers predicts.

“The big publishers are moving offsite because they can control the message and put on fan events without getting lost in the shuffle of all these other games,” Piscatella added. “The best way to go is what Nintendo is doing with their Direct program, where they’re messaging folks multiple times throughout the year and not saving it all for one big E3 blowout.”

While this move serves their interests in the short term, analysts warn of the consequences for the identity of the show itself.

“They have to make sure that the fan event is still big enough to draw the press to LA, so it’s not just a bunch of separate companies doing their own offshoot events during the week of E3,” Rogers warned. “As that continues to happen and more companies pull away, they’re potentially going to say . . . ‘Why aren’t we doing this in August, when no one else is announcing anything?'”

If too many companies pull away and host their own conventions, like the Xbox FanFest, EA Play and BlizzCon, E3 may no longer be able to pull in mass media coverage like it once did.

“The one thing E3 does that’s difficult to do with a Direct-style format is that at E3 you get the big press outlets, the NBCs and the CNNs, doing segments about the show,” Piscatella claimed. “There’s still value in doing this big once-a-year blowout.”

PlayStation ‘Play Fearlessly’ Spot Taps Gamer Emotion Instead Of Specific Products

PlayStation continued its emotion-based video game marketing strategy during the NBA Finals Sunday, debuting a new spot called “Play Fearlessly.”

“Play Fearlessly” is part of Sony PlayStation’s ongoing “Greatness Awaits” campaign that, fittingly, debuted during the NBA Finals in 2013. Five years later, the campaign has become iconic of the video game console but this latest spot is different in one respect—it doesn’t show any gameplay or features.

“This year, we identified a massive opportunity to tell a unique story about the PlayStation brand,” Mary Yee, vice president of marketing for PlayStation told AListDaily. “One that focuses on something we can all relate to—the exhilaration and pure joy we all feel when we get to play.”

PlayStation has illustrated this idea many times throughout the “Greatness Awaits” campaigns, from jumping out of a window into a Star Wars X-wing to describing dynamic 4K with opera.

Rather than focus on a particular game, “Play Fearlessly” opens with a woman staring down the road at a wall of fog, talking about how the world is full of monsters like loneliness and doubt.

“In our world,” the woman says, “they bring darkness—we bring light. We play free.”

As the music comes to a crescendo and more people join the woman as she charges the wall of fog, they begin to fly into the air and exclaim with joy. The symbolism of “Play Fearlessly” is that gamers are freed when they face challenges, whatever they might be.

“For some of us, play is nostalgic—it reminds us of younger times or childhood memories,” said Yee. “For others, it is ever-present and something we prioritize in our lives. In either case, we think play is fundamental to who we are.”

PlayStation has promoted heavily during basketball sporting events, including the basketball halftime show between the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. The activation, dubbed “War on the Floor,” featured a 3D image of God of War gameplay projected onto the hardwood.

“To us, sports fandom is analogous to with gaming fandom,” says Yee. “Basketball and sports, in general, invoke the extraordinary and bring a spotlight to athletes achieving great things in tremendous ways. In our world, our gamers are the athletes.”

Tom Cruise Posts ‘Top Gun 2’ Teaser, Drives Engagement For Paramount

Top Gun 2 has begun filming, Tom Cruise teased on Thursday, sharing a photo on social media that has already garnered over $105,000 in earned media value for the film.

Actor Tom Cruise shared a photo on Twitter and Instagram of him dressed as his famous Top Gun character Maverick, walking toward a jet with the words “Feel the Need.” Aside from the photo, Cruise wrote only #Day1, meaning that it was the first day of principle filming for Top Gun 2 (titled Top Gun: Maverick).

Tom Cruise joined Instagram in January and is levering his millions of followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to promote the films in which he stars and/or produces. Since he performs his own stunts, Cruise shares behind-the-scenes footage of how some of the film sequences came together. His stunt work for The Mummy was even adapted into a VR experience.

To measure user engagement with Cruise’s Top Gun 2 teaser post, we calculated the earned media value from Instagram and Twitter.

“Earned media” is the value of engagements a brand receives across channels as a result of their marketing efforts. To help quantify what the value of those engagements is worth, Ayzenberg Group established the Ayzenberg Earned Media Value Index (AEMVI) and assigned a quantifiable dollar amount for marketing gains a brand receives from a campaign or individual engagement that includes social media networks and similar digital properties.

(Editor’s note: AListDaily is the publishing arm of Ayzenberg Group. To read the updated AEMVI report reflecting the rapid changes in social, click here.)

Based on the latest AEMVI rates for Twitter interactions, Tom Cruise—on behalf of Paramount Pictures—generated $105,817.05 in organic social media engagement in one day with just one tweet and one Instagram post. This figure was based on values assigned to likes, comments and retweets.

Tapping into the massive follower base of their actors, building hype for a film directly from the star’s social media profile has become a tactic used by many studios, leading to a shift in how actors negotiate their contracts. It was recently revealed, for example, that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is charging $1 million for access to his fans on social media, including 107 million in Instagram.

Johnson frequently posts about his upcoming projects, although it’s unclear as to whether he is paid to do so—the aforementioned $1 million social media deal was negotiated specifically for the upcoming film Red Notice. Actor Chris Pratt was reportedly paid $10 million for reprising his role in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and likely collected additional fees for sharing behind-the-scenes featurettes called “Chris Pratt’s Jurassic Journals.”

AList Picks: The Podcasts Worth Your Time

There are 240 different podcasts under the “Most Popular” tab for iTunes’ Marketing and Management topic alone. We’ve separated the marketing podcast wheat from the chaff for those looking to maximize their off-screen time.

Confessions of a Marketer

Hosted by Mark Reed-Edwards, Confessions of a Marketer is a series of candid, one-on-one conversations with prominent marketing professionals and professors on subjects spanning a CMO’s wheelhouse, from broad strategy topics such as data privacy and the next generation of talent, to granular subjects like product marketing and funding acquisition.

AdExchanger Talks

For the digital and data marketers, AdEchanger Talks is the source for news on martech developments and digital best practices. With episodes on the lengthier side of the marketing podcast stack, discussions are more in-depth, but include full-text transcripts for listeners in a rush.

Ad Lib

Purporting to cut through the PR-speak so prevalent in the media and marketing fields, AdAge‘s Ad Lib podcast features off-the-cuff conversations with high-profile marketers about their careers, experience and opinions.

“The goal here is to do away with spin and jargon, and get to know some of the more influential and innovative people in this space—and understand the humans behind the titles,” the show’s description promises.

HBR IdeaCast

The long-running official podcast of the Harvard Business Review, HBR IdeaCast features bite-sized conversations with executive thought leaders and academics in all aspects of business and management, from networking to AI innovations to work-life balance. The podcast releases weekly, and has a massive searchable backlog from the last 11 years for any topic that might cross a marketer’s mind, including a six-part series centering entirely on the triumphs, troubles and myths faced by women at work.

Announcing ‘Fallout 76,’ Bethesda Earns $210,000 EMV With One Tweet

Bethesda has long proven itself as a savvy player in the capricious attention game, drip-feeding its fans hints for teases for announcements to maximize conversation while minimizing information. On Tuesday, with a gif, a bobblehead and a Twitch stream, the game publisher created a textbook case of hype generation for its latest game, Fallout 76.

In 24 hours, Bethesda generated over $200,000 in organic social media engagement, garnering 60,000 Retweets and close to 150,000 likes on a single Tweet. That’s more than triple the amount of engagement Bethesda’s official Twitter account generates in an entire month.


“Earned media” is the value of engagements a brand receives across channels as a result of their marketing efforts. To help quantify what the value of those engagements is worth, Ayzenberg Group established the Ayzenberg Earned Media Value Index (AEMVI) and assigned a quantifiable dollar amount for marketing gains a brand receives from a campaign or individual engagement that includes social media networks and similar digital properties.

(Editor’s note: AListDaily is the publishing arm of Ayzenberg Group. To read the updated AEMVI report reflecting the rapid changes in social, click here.)

The stream, which focuses on a Vault-Tec bobblehead and a TV displaying a flickering “Please Stand By” message, is occasionally interrupted by other teases, such as a man wandering through the frame wearing the game series iconic “Pip-Boy” wrist accessory and a ‘Punch and Judy’-esque Vault Boy puppet.

Even as comments roll in faster than one could possibly read them, begging for more information and speculating on the content of Bethesda’s presumable announcement, the company remains tight-lipped. So far, the only information about the announcement came from Obsidian, one of Bethesda’s developers, to say that the stream has nothing to do with them. The mystery remains.

Bethesda pulled a similar stunt just earlier this month to announce Rage 2, commenting on a leak from Walmart Canada, following up with a few cryptic messages leading up to a full announcement. These hype-building lead-up tweets were fundamental to the marketing of the game—Bethesda’s original tweet responding to the Walmart leak generated significantly more engagement than the announcement itself.

Despite Bethesda’s plans to host a press conference at E3 this year, the company seems to be skipping the lens of journalistic coverage to instead go directly to their fans.