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Pepsi uses mobile hub for NBA-themed Web series

Pepsi is heralding the return of one of its most popular mobile marketing campaigns with Uncle Drew, a video campaign with the titular character played by NBA start Kyrie Irving.

Not only is Pepsi bringing back the popular character, it is launching a mobile-optimized hub site to host all the video content produced under this campaign. The move is an attempt to cash in on the shorter, more digestible size of mobile video to appeal to customers.

"With fresh and exciting content, Pepsi will look to reignite the courtside excitement around Uncle Drew and continue its legacy of rewarding fans with fun, exciting and authentic moments in pop culture and sports," said Aziel Rivers, director of Pepsi Marketing. "With the availability of brand new Uncle Drew merchandise on UncleDrew.com, we are really able to show the evolution of the Uncle Drew brand which keeps fans connected at multiple touch points both on and off the screen."

Uncle Drew
While video ads have always been a mainstay of marketers? arsenals, the mobile era has ushered in a new form of video ad spots characterized by a shorter length, an absurdist bend and a serialized nature.

This style of ad informs Pepsi?s latest campaign, a video series capitalizing on the popularity of a short-lived character named Uncle Drew, played by Mr. Irving.

When the character first debuted, he was a massive success, and popular demand inspired the brand to continue making more ads in that style.

Kyrie Irving plays Uncle Drew, an opinionated old man who loves basketball

The shorter nature of these new uncle Drew shorts make them the perfect size and length to be easily consumed and digested over social media or on a mobile device where customer attention is at a premium.

Rather than making them sit through long advertisements or barely making an impressions with something too short, these ads strike a balance between the two and give consumers an easily digestible video spot featuring a popular character.

The new ads will also be hosted on UncleDrew.com, a mobile-optimized Web site that will act as a hub for future Uncle Drew shorts as well.

The brand is relying not just on length and accessibility, but also on a lightly serialized nature as multiple shorts with recurring characters debut over the next few months.

Mobile video
Cashing in on the popularity of an NBA superstar for a mobile video campaign is not without precedent as far as marketing campaigns go.

While Pepsi is certainly making a bold statement by investing os much into this series, other brands have tried similar campaigns, some even in the last week or two.

Take, for example, a new Foot Locker video spot featuring Russell Westbrook (see story). While he is not playing a wacky character such as Uncle Drew, he is stall starring in a similar digestible, mobile video spot.

Users can view chapters of the series on a mobile site

Pizza Hut went in a different direction, recruiting NFL player DeAngelo Williams and focusing on his background as a former Pizza Hut employee himself (see story).

These ad campaigns are designed to reach the maximum amount of users through a careful calculation of length and content. Pepsi is hoping that its math worked out properly for this latest campaign.

"Every day, we continue to extend the equity of our iconic Pepsi brand beyond the bottle," said Lou Arbetter, general manager of Creators League Studio. "Today's consumers want to live the brand as much as consume it, and the tremendous success we've had with the Uncle Drew franchise is a perfect example of how we're building ecosystems around our flagship brands.

"Pepsi and Kyrie Irving are looking forward to expanding the Uncle Drew universe," he said. "We are excited for the recent launches of both UncleDrew.com and a corresponding merchandise line, and can confirm there are plans to feature Uncle Drew in a feature length film."