Why Pepsi made ‘Uncle Drew’ into a movie

“Uncle Drew,” that smack-talking, geriatric baller who’s been dunking on “young bloods” in Pepsi Max commercials since 2012, has landed on the big screen.

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The movie, which opened Friday, was Pepsi’s idea: The company commissioned the “Uncle Drew” screenplay. Pepsi Productions landed a co-producer credit on the movie — a first for a food and beverage company.

Why would Pepsi want to get involved with Hollywood?

The product placement doesn’t hurt: “Uncle Drew” is essentially a feature-length Pepsi commercial. Its product and branding will appear throughout the film on vending machines and court logos. Gatorade, which is owned by Pepsi, also makes an appearance.

The movie could help Pepsi reach a younger audience, according to T. Bettina Cornwell, head of the marketing department at the University of Oregon’s business school. The NBA is popular with Millennials, and the film stars one of the league’s great young stars: a heavily made-up Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics as “Uncle Drew.”

Related: Gatorade is going sugarless for the first time in its 53-year-history

Pepsi (PEP) hopes “Uncle Drew” can give it an edge with the NBA fans. In April, Pepsi reported“challenges” in its US soda business, and rival Coca-Cola’s (KO) share of the market has increased over the past decade, according to the trade publication Beverage Digest. Pepsi’s share has dropped to less than half Coke’s.

Read more at Money.CNN:  http://money.cnn.com/2018/06/29/news/companies/pepsi-uncle-drew-movie/index.html

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