Uncle Drew is a comedy basketball film based on a series of ads for Pepsi Max—the latest example of advertising that goes on to influence pop culture. Lionsgate released a teaser trailer on Thursday ahead of the movie’s June 29 release, gaining extra traction on social media thanks to its all-star cast.
Although it remains to be seen how much Pepsi will be featured in the film, Uncle Drew was filmed in partnership with PepsiCo’s Creators League Studios.
NBA star Kyrie Irving wrote, directed and starred in the first “Uncle Drew” advertisement in 2012. Based on the Pepsi Max slogan, “zero calorie cola in disguise,” Irving dressed as an old man and hustled some local basketball players at a pick-up game. He showed up with a camera crew under the guise of filming a documentary. After pretending to struggle, Irving as Uncle Drew surprises everyone with his professional-level basketball skills.
While there is some debate as to whether the reactions are real—one girl just happens to be drinking a Pepsi 2.5 minutes in—the video went viral and has over 51.1 million views to date. Pepsi went on to create three more chapters, followed by 11 spots timed around NBA All-Star Games, NBA Finals and the NBA Playoffs. Irving’s fans often yell “Uncle Drew” at his games.
Uncle Drew‘s big picture debut has Kyrie Irving in the title role, joined by real-life basketball pros Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Nate Robinson, Reggie Miller and Lisa Leslie.
Uncle Drew is a perfect example of how marketing can entertain just as much as it can inspire a purchase, and Pepsi has intentionally created a new pop culture reference for fans to remember.
Budweiser lays claim to some of the most iconic pop culture moments. Anyone alive in the 80’s could tell you that Spuds McKenzie was the ultimate Bud Light party animal. His public recognition is so great that the dog’s ghost returned for a Super Bowl spot last year.
These days, you might hear “Dilly Dilly” exclaimed among drinking buddies, as Bud Light rides its latest wave of pop culture adoption.