Thanks to Mountain Dew, Fans Finally Have GIFs Worthy of Joel Embiid

The brand and TBWA\Chiat\Day want you to step up your tweets when he's on his game

A still of Joel Embiid on his phone looking at GIFs
The NBA's Joel Embiid wants fans to pick better GIFs to celebrate his moves on the court. Mountain Dew
Headshot of Mitch Reames

The NBA is arguably the most social media friendly sports league, and that focus is beginning to seep into ads featuring NBA stars. While other leagues have tried to clamp down on copyrighted materials across social media, the NBA has generally opened content to the masses, with the result being vibrant digital communities like #NBATwitter and the NBA subreddit.

Young stars have been able to leverage social media to build personal brands beyond on-court performance. Joel Embiid, the star and big man for the Philadelphia 76ers, didn’t even play his first two years in the NBA due to a string of injuries. Despite not being on the court, he was a fan favorite thanks to an active Twitter presence. Once he finally broke out in 2017, Embiid immediately became one of the league’s young icons, thanks in large part to his rabid digital audience.

Now agency TBWA\Chiat\Day is leveraging Embiid’s love of social media for a new Mountain Dew campaign that aims to up fans’ GIF game when it comes to celebrating his plays.

“The new Dew commercial featuring Joel Embiid is exciting new territory for us because it does more than send an advertising message. It’s a call to action to do something,” said Erin Chin, senior director of marketing for Mountain Dew. “Dew fans as well as NBA fans are always fully plugged into hoops culture, and we know they are almost always on social media during the games. So we teamed up with Giphy to make the GIFs from the TV commercial accessible on Instagram.”

While real GIFs obviously don’t have sound like what’s featured in the ad, the clips can still be found in their silent glory in one of Mountain Dew’s collections on Giphy.

Strategically, the ad hits Mountain Dew’s target audience of digital-native young adults with a two-pronged content approach: a spot that plays up Embiid’s charms and lightly branded GIFs that will fuel his fans’ love for social media.

The top two YouTube comments showcase the best and worst extremes of reactions from this target audience. One commenter said it made them want to buy Mountain Dew. The other promised to blame Mountain Dew if Embiid experienced diarrhea again in the playoffs (a reference to his 2019 battle with stomach flu).

TBWA\Chiat\Day’s campaign highlights a clear trend of brands partnering with Giphy to amplify their ads and partnerships. Today, for example, Jif peanut butter (by way of Publicis agency PSOne) launched a limited-edition jar labeled Gif in partnership with Giphy, with the product selling out in hours.

Client: Pepsico / Mountain Dew –
Nicole Portwood – Vice President Marketing: Mtn Dew / Energy / Flavors
Erin Chin – Senior Director Marketing
Alexandre Chiavegatti – Director Marketing
Ashley Booker – Marketing Manager
Charece Williams Gee – Sports Marketing Strategy, Basketball Partnerships

Direct Focus –
Brett Zuckerman – Producer

Agency: TBWA/Chiat/Day
Chris Beresford-Hill – CCO
Julia Neumann – ECD
Amy Ferguson – ECD
Mike Blanch – Creative Director
Tom Hall – ACD, copy
Avi Steinbach – ACD, copy
Alexander Holm – ACD, art
Nancy Reyes – President
Bruna Bechelli – Business Lead
Matthew Duerr – Business Director
Allie Lightcap – Business Manager
Jennifer Bilyk – Director of Business Affairs
Anne Camile Charpié – Integrated Business Affairs Manager
John Doris – Head of Production
Tina Lam – Executive Producer
James Sowden – Chief Strategy Officer
John Gibson – Executive Strategy Director
Bodi Karsano – Digital Strategist
Michael Obermeyer – Senior Strategist

Production: Park Pictures
Director – Terri Timely
DP: Donavan Sell
EP: Justin Pollock
EP: Jackie Kelman Bisbee
HOP: Anne Bobroff
Production Designer: Ginger Tougas
Line Producer: David Lambert

Editorial: PS260
Editor: Maury Loeb
Assistant Editor: Ashley Ingbretson
Managing Partner: Zarina Mak
Senior Producer: Evann Payne
Creative Director: Patrick Lavin

VFX: Artjail
VFX on-set supervisors: Steve Mottershead, Emily Bloom
Creative Director: Steve Mottershead
VFX Supervisor/2D Lead: Emily Bloom
Head of 2d: Lee Towndrow
2D Compositor: Alex Harding
Designer-Animators: Juan Monasterio, Kristin Koch
Executive Producer: John Skeffington
Producer: Sue Yee Hubbard

Audio: Plush
Mixer: Rob Fielack
Assistant Mixer: John Nathans
Managing Director: Stephen Schmidt

Music House: Search Party Music
Composers: Aaron Paul Low and Mike Gibney
EP: Winslow Bright

Mitch Reames is a freelance writer based in southern Oregon. A 2017 graduate of the University of Oregon school of journalism and communications, Reames covers a wide range of industry topics including creativity, agencies, brands, esports and more.