The release date of Drake's highly-anticipated debut album may still be up in the air but he is still making his presence felt in other ways. The Toronto rapper has teamed up with Sprite for the first commercial of its recently launched "Spark" campaign, aimed at giving teens a platform to express their creativity through music and film. The campaign is the brand's first-ever global marketing push as well as Drake's first worldwide deal.
"My management brought it to me and explained the initial idea and the message behind it and I was all for it," Drake tells Billboard.com. "The campaign is really about creativity through music and film and promotes fresh thinking and originality. I guess they recognized my potential based off what has happened with my music career in the last year. I think it's a great thing to be responsible, in a way, for exciting young kids."
Drake's commercial, titled "Unleashed," features the MC struggling to find inspiration in the studio while recording his hit song "Forever;" the song was originally featured in the LeBron James documentary, "More Than A Game," and reached No. 2 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Drake drinks a Sprite and morphs into an animatronics model with the Sprite traveling through his body and exploding through his heart, which is in the shape of a large speaker. The model reassembles, helping unleash Drake's lyrical prowess with the delivery of the song's intro line: "Last name Ever/First name greatest."
"It happens all the time -- it's the beautiful struggle," says Drake of having similar real-life experiences like the one depicted in the commercial -- which will air in a 30 and a 60 second version. "For an artist who's a perfectionist -- much like Lil Wayne, who I take my inspiration from -- you may sit there for 20 minutes or three days writing. I'm working on a song right now with such a strong hook that I've been trying to match the energy of what I have so far for days."
The ad also features Drake's real life long-time collaborators: producers 40 and Boi-1da.
"The day we were shooting they had generic extras in this beautiful set they had created. I told them, 'look, honestly, this is not really how I record. My recording sessions don't look like a party -- we actually come to work'," says Drake. "To make it a genuine studio moment I asked if 40 and Boi-1da could be a part of it -- they are key elements behind my creative process. To have all three of us in the commercial was a glorious moment for me."
The "Spark" campaign is an integrated marketing effort that includes TV, digital, out-of-home and mobile applications. "Spark" will consist of two stages -- one focused on music and a second on film. The campaign will be comprised of innovative commercials featuring Drake as well as film director Rik Cordero and China-based singer/songwriter Jay Chou; the Sprite "Spark" Music Project, an online interactive music mixer that enables people to make their own tunes and/or remix music from Drake with music from emerging artists around the world, which is launching in March; and the Sprite "Spark" Film Project, due to launch in April, will provide people with the tools and content to edit their own 45-second animated films.
"We looked at a lot of artists for this campaign," says Joe Tripodi, Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer of the Coca-Cola Company. "It began with the core creative idea that Sprite is the spark of fresh thinking when you combine our brand of individuality and creativity with the sudden refreshment of lemon lime that comes together for the spark. As we filtered through, we realized we wanted someone with a breadth of interest across the globe -- a new, fresh, young talent."
"Drake's ability to combine the purest rap with emotional R&B and coming from a child acting career in Canada to a worldwide music career was the ultimate spark in fresh thinking in the youth platform," adds Katie Bayne, Chief Marketing Officer of Coca-Cola North America.
Drake is also partnering with Sprite for its "Step-Off" competition in Atlanta, which awards $1.5 million in college sponsorships. The program has been running since last fall and takes place at historically Black colleges. Drake will be a judge and will also perform at the finale.
Additionally, Drake will also judge and perform as part of the first-ever Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown being held on Feb. 12 as part of this year's NBA All-Star game. Drake will judge alongside NBA player LeBron James and former NBA player Darryl Dawkins. He will perform live after the Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown.
"Unleashed" will run in four markets -- Phillipines, Turkey, South Africa and the U.S., where it debuted during the pre-Super Bowl broadcast. Other general consumer "Spark" ads will run this weekend during the Sprite NBA Slam Dunk Showdown.