Kyrie‚Äôs Uncle Drew Scores His Own Wheaties Box, Makes Marketing History
Thursday, May 3, 2018 at 12:44PM in Ad Campaign, Kyrie Irving, Uncle Drew, Wheaties, ad campaign, movies

By Barry Janoff

May 3, 2018: The character of Uncle Drew, which came to life via a Pepsi Max campaign featuring NBA star Kyrie Irving, is not only coming to the big screen but also to your breakfast table.

And making some marketing and cereal history along the way.

Wheaties said that Irving would do double-duty on an upcoming box, appearing in his Boston Celtics uniform on one side and on the other as the title character of the upcoming film, Uncle Drew.

The Kyrie Irving/Uncle Drew limited-edition Wheaties box will be available nationwide in late May 2018.

Wheaties, a General Mills brand, is supporting with Internet, social media and POP.

Irving marketing partner Nike has also collaborated with Wheaties for a very limited-edition signature Kyrie shoe package (100), with Wheaties-inspired shoes in a shoe box adorned with Wheaties packaging along with a mini-box of Wheaties, a cereal bowl and a spoon. Nike said the special-edition package would be given out by Irving at his discretion, but that the shoe itself would soon hit retail.

Although there have been non-athletes adorning the iconic "Breakfast of Champions" (dating back to aviators Elinor Smith and Martin and Osa Johnson in 1934), this is the first time in more than 60 years that a Hollywood character is appearing on the box.

Among the Hollywood stars to appear on Wheaties (backs and/or panels) were Shirley Temple and Johnny Weissmuller in the 1930s and movie and TV cowboy stars including Gene Autry and William "Hopalong Cassidy" Boyd in the 1950s.

There also is another distinction for the two-sided Irving box.

"For the first time in (nearly two) decades Wheaties will feature two great athletes on its box at the same time," Kathy Dixon, marketing communications manager for Wheaties, said in a statement.

Kirby Puckett and Dave Winfield were each on one side of a Wheaties box in 2001. Until now, that was the first and only Wheaties box that highlighted different athletes on the front and back, according to Wheaties.

"Kyrie is a proven winner based on all of his accomplishments on and off the court, and the story of Uncle Drew reminds us that no matter your age, you can still have fun and be successful at the things you love to do,” said Dixon.

Uncle Drew (due out June 29), is based on the marketing campaign conceived by Pepsi Max, which began in 2012, with Irving as a 75-year-old streetball legend “known for his amazing handles and ability to go to the rim.”

Expect lots of product placement in the film, including Pepsi, Nike and Gatorade.

According to Paula Kupfer, Lionsgate svp-global partnerships and promotions, "It's truly incredible to have Uncle Drew featured on the legendary Wheaties Box.

“We're thrilled to be a part of a campaign that celebrates Kyrie Irving as an amazing athlete and Uncle Drew as a beloved big screen character."

Among other current and former pro basketball stars in the movie are Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson, and Lisa Leslie.

According to Webber, Irving was in his Uncle Drew character about to film a scene last summer when he received news that he had been traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Celtics.

According to Wheaties, the product was created in 1922, the result of an accidental spill of a wheat bran mixture onto a hot stove by a Minnesota clinician working for the Washburn Crosby Company (which later became General Mills).

"For the first time in (nearly two) decades Wheaties will feature two great athletes on its box at the same time."

Early on in Wheaties history, the brand had a fictional character who regularly appeared on the box, “Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy,” whose Indiana Jones-type exploits were depicted in a live-action Hollywood “B” movie serial.

Irving continues a tradition that dates back to 1934 when Lou Gehrig became the first athlete on a Wheaties box, with the brand putting images on the sides and/or back of the book.

The first athlete to actually appear on the front cover was track & field star Bob Richards in 1958.

Michael Jordan has been on the most Wheaties boxes, 18 times.

From Lionsgate's Summit Entertainment label, the film is also produced by Temple Hill in association with Pepsi Productions.

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