SB Nation published a blog about how Joel Embiid likes a soda that the soda company pays him to say he likes. Yes, it’s as embarrassing and pointless as it sounds.
The goddamned headline is “I talked to Joel Embiid and I think he may like Mountain Dew more than trash talk.” Here’s a sampling of the blog:
Joel Embiid, one of Mountain Dew’s athletes, was at St. Nick’s Park in Harlem on Tuesday to celebrate the soon-to-be rookie Marvin Bagley III and the fact that Bagley is joining the Dew team, along with Embiid and Russell Westbrook.
I got a few minutes to talk to Embiid amidst flying basketballs and loud music, but we got down to some extremely important Mountain Dew questions
The writer then asked Embiid a bunch of unfunny questions all about soda.
First things first, have you ever made a Shirley Temple with Mountain Dew?
[His eyes light up]
I’ve never tried but thats a good idea. I might. Yeah I’m gonna do that.
So that could be your signature Mountain Dew drink.
Yeah definitely, it needs to be something that has to do with Shirley Temple.
What foods go well with Mountain Dew?
Probably like a pasta bolognese. Yeah that would be nice.
The brand is mentioned 21 times by name in this blog. Every single question the writer asked Embiid was about the brand. The photo is a brand-supplied photo of Embiid drinking the product. The headline mentions the brand. Somewhere, a PR person is emailing this to all of their coworkers and saying “Holy shit, I can’t believe this worked!”
Look, junkets happen. We don’t do them but a lot of outlets do. But there’s a way they usually work, at least for self-respecting reporters: Media people go to the events and politely ask, like, one question about the brand before asking the athlete actual questions about whatever it is they want to ask about. Brands will try to prevent media from straying from the product; media ignores them.
Here’s an NYMag Q&A with Embiid from the exact same event, and it’s perfectly fine. Useful to the reader, even! There is one single question about the brand—it is the only mention of the brand in the entire piece—and then an actual interesting interview with an interesting player that touches on the Colangelo Twitter scandal, Markelle Fultz’s shooting struggles, and Embiid’s offseason habit of playground balling against normies:
What do they say to you?
They usually just disrespect NBA players a lot. I’m competitive and I think everybody knows that if you’re talking trash, you’re gonna get a reaction out of me.
Who’s been the hardest five-foot white guy to play against?
They’re all bad?
They’re not that bad. I’m just too good.
So much for SBNation’s headline; I don’t think Joel Embiid actually does like Mountain Dew more than trash talk. Not if you ask good questions, anyway.