Cannes Lions

Joel is Not Happy

TBWA\CHIAT\DAY, New York / MTN DEW / 2020

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The NBA is a crowded space for brands, but as an official sponsor, MTN DEW wanted to stand out. To do so, MTN DEW inserted themselves in NBA basketball culture.

The NBA sparks more social conversation from fans than any other sport, so MTN DEW went where NBA fans engage most – on their mobile devices, talking to each other on social media, while reacting to games on TV.


The NBA sparks more social conversation from fans than any other sport. Our target audience (Younger Millennials and Gen Z) who live and breathe the NBA, follow every big play and highlight with social commentary.

MTN DEW knew GIFs are often used in these conversations to react to NBA highlights (to a tune of 81,000 GIFs sent per second), but noticed the same ones being overused.

NBA superstar Joel Embiid and his highlight reel plays deserved better. So, MTN DEW created a special GIF collection just for him.


Social conversation is an intrinsic is piece of modern NBA basketball culture that both players and fans manifest.

Joel Embiid, a 3x NBA All-Star, is well known for the big, highlight reel plays fans love. He is also known for his big personality and huge online presence (1.7M Twitter followers / 4M Instagram). Embiid call himself “Troel” Embiid on Twitter and says that he "represents twitter in the NBA."

With NBA having more online engagement than any other sport, primarily from our target audience (younger Millennials and Gen Z), we knew that connecting to fans on social media would be more impactful than a traditional TV product spot.


We launched the campaign during NBA All-Star Game Weekend, a tentpole moment of the NBA season, when 7.3 million fans were watching live and recapping online their favorite plays.

The campaign could be seen on popular GIF sites GIPHY and Tenor, as well as on air as a :30 second TV spot, and on digital (YouTube, PreRoll) and social (FB, IG, Twitter) channels as :30, :15, and :06 messages promoting the GIFs.

The GIFs themselves will live on NBA Twitter forever.


By creating our own GIF collection for Joel Embiid, “MTN DEW owned the GIF game during the All-Star game” – GIPHY.

MTN DEW GIFs were engaged with 6.5 million times over the three-day NBA All-Star Game weekend and actively shared over social media with a share rate of .56%, which is double the benchmark for ‘Trending’ GIFs on GIPHY.

From testing and social media performance, the MTN DEW campaign was proven to be effective at developing to recognition of MTN DEW as an official sponsor of the NBA, as well as driving brand appeal, distinction and consideration for MTN DEW and fostering engagement among our target audiences (Younger millennials and Gen Z).

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