Mountain Dew took three new Dew flavors to fans, asking for feedback on placing ad media buys. The move represents the latest in a series of attempts by so-called Dew Labs to turn over the entire product development cycle and marketing process to consumers who love the brand most.
The year-long project now asks Mountain Dew lovers to guide the media-buying process after creating the products and designing the marketing campaign. Through the DEWmocracy project, Mountain Dew polled the 4,000 Dew Labs members about their favorite Web sites. Gathering that information, Mountain Dew invited the potential media partners to pitch the DEW Labs community.
Entertainment Web sites CollegeHumor, The Onion, Crave Online, and Funny or Die became Mountain Dew Media Partners after DEWmocracy members were asked in February to name their favorite Web sites. The chosen sites created two-minute pitch videos, but in the end DEWmocracy members had to vote on the site that would help Mountain Dew market the flavors. The four sites worked with the Mountain Dew's Flavor Nations on their campaigns, which aired on April 19. These sites will also work on the winning product launches.
At CollegeHumor, the group created a campaign that emphasized the ultimate road trip. For each Dew flavor, the site will come up with three video ideas, and then it's up to those in the DEW Lab to decide which one they want to see. The three videos will post to the CollegeHumor site and let users decide their favorite. The flavor that wins dictates where the group goes on the road trip. The group will film all of its popular series.
The CollegeHumor cast will tweet clues on Twitter as to their specific location, but it's up to Dew Lab fans to find them. One lucky fan will get a chance not only to ride in the CollegeHumor tour bus, but also to star in a segment of "Hardly Working." That's if CollegeHumor wins the media pitch challenge and the members of the Dew Labs vote them in.
It turns out the road trip gets underway this week. The team will meet up with the DEWmocracy Flavor Teams already on the road. The Distortion video that CollegeHumor created received the most "likes," so the team will meet up with the Mountain Dew's group on their Flavor Campaign Tour in Cincinnati this week.
Mountain Dew, whose parent company Pepsi shunned this year's Super Bowl in favor of advertising on social media, has been rallying soft drink fans not only to create and name the Dew flavors, but to market them too. Since last year, competing teams chose flavors, voted on new drink names, spread the word on Twitter and Facebook, inspected commercials and organized stops for the sampling vehicle.
"Between 70% and 90% of the more than 4,000 members have responded throughout the process," says Brett O'Brien, Mountain Dew's marketing director.
The vans with marketers and fans recently set out across the United States representing each flavor -- Typhoon, Distortion, and White Out. Fans in each truck represent the flavors. Consumers can track the vans through the DEWmocracy Web site. Maps link to the groups' Twitter page, providing geographic location. Technology and social media give the groups that are traveling around the country in the vans the ability to tweet their location and have fans nearby join them for a little fun and a taste test. The iPads in the trucks allow fans to vote and have their preference added to the tally in real-time.
Designed by consumers, Mountain Dew's three new flavors hit store shelves three weeks ago. Voting on the flavor will continue until June 15, and on Labor Day the next permanent product created entirely by Dew drinkers will debut.
The first DEWmocracy initiative began in late 2007, allowing consumers to create flavor, color, name and graphics. About 1 million participated in the process. The result was Voltage, a citrus-flavored beverage that came to market in January 2009.
DEWmocracy 2 followed in July. The idea to give the brand's fans another outlet to express their passion created an ongoing dialogue between the brand and DEW drinkers by leveraging social media and giving consumers a voice.
The DEWmocracy platform has become a pedestal for collaboration among fans, as Pepsi loosens control and turns over the creative process and marketing to those who dig deep into their pockets to support the brand.
"We don't plan to continue to outdo ourselves," O'Brien says. "It's really about keeping the lines of communication open."