Mountain Dew Lets Fans Plan Tour, Events

Mountain Dew

Typically, a brand event is at least months in the planning -- or if not, likely requires hyper mode by the agencies handling it.

But while seat-of-the-pants activation may be inadvisable for most events, a 30-day, 69-city "grassroots" promotion tour that was part of Mountain Dew's year-long "DEWmocracy 2" campaign may point to an alternative worth considering.

In synch with DEWmocracy 2's mission of engaging fans by having them campaign and vote to determine which of three new Dew flavors would be rolled out by PepsiCo, the destinations, activities and venues for the "DEWmocracy: The Flavor Campaign" tour were also largely determined by fans.

The basic concept: Three mobile teams comprising agency/marketer reps and hardcore Dew fans -- each team "campaigning" for its own Dew flavor (White Out, Typhoon or Distortion) -- were sent on cross-country tours to engage people in the flavor competition/voting through live events over four weeks, starting May 1.



The teams got the ball rolling by using online and social media to let people know about the tour and doing some initial organization of campaigning theme challenges that would involve activities like skateboarding competitions, art exhibits, and sampling opportunities at concerts/sporting events. But fans were told they would be calling the shots on which cities were visited and the specifics of activities to take place in their areas, including input on venues.

As a result, many event decisions were made on the fly, based on consumers' input via Twitter and a dedicated microsite. Fans also were urged to rally friends and families to participate in the events, post photos and video content online and vote for their favorite flavor.

The results were eye-opening, says Matt Statman, founder of Motive, the lead creative agency for the tour, who estimates that about 60% of tour activity decisions were made by consumers.

The teams distributed about 60,000 samples of the Dew flavors, made direct, in-person contact with more than 100,000 consumers, and generated more than 1.5 million total impressions in person, online and through social media, he tells Marketing Daily.

Equally important was the level of personal involvement exhibited by fans. "I've been doing event marketing for 20 years," says Statman. "Usually, tours are so prepared, with the costs and logistics of each stop pinned down well in advance. This experience was a game-changer, from my perspective. Tapping the 'collective intelligence' by turning decisions over to consumers resulted in far more opportunistic and meaningful engagement. The loyalty- and community-building results were huge. I'll definitely be thinking about using the core concept for future campaigns."

Consumers proved eager to bring the tours to their towns, frequently volunteering or securing low- or no-cost venues in their communities, as well as generating local coverage of their events. For instance, one avid Dew fan threw a party in his own basement, and was interviewed about it the next day on a local ABC-TV affiliate.

Large venues like arenas also proved quite receptive to last-minute Dew-fan "crash" sampling events during concerts and sports events, and many even offered lower-than-normal rates for hosting these "guerrilla" events, reports Statman. An unexpected but welcome side benefit: The tour's overall activation costs came in well under budget.

Some of the events that took place during the tour:

  • As part of a "Say I Dew Challenge" theme, Team White Out hosted a Mountain Dew-themed wedding in Portland, Ore. that was covered by the local CBS affiliate. Team Typhoon hosted a wedding reception (with a Typhoon cake) for two Dew fans being married in Gatlinburg, Tenn. In Detroit, Team Distortion took part in nuptials that featured the soda flavor's color theme.
  • Each team collected endorsements for its flavor, ranging from the mayor and fire department of Pigeon Forge, Tenn. to a visit/inspirational message from "Benjamin Franklin" during a Philadelphia event.
  • An "Art of Good Taste" challenge encouraged fans to tap into their local art scenes to create events and bring the teams to their towns. Team White Out hosted a poster show in which local Denver artists submitted prints with their interpretations of a "White Out" theme. Team Distortion took part in a rooftop graffiti show in New York City, and Team Typhoon participated in a fashion show in Nashville.
  • As part of a "Skate Competition/Parkour Challenge," Team Typhoon organized a skating competition in Vans Skate Park in Orlando, Fla. and Team Distortion held one in Philadelphia. Team White Out held a "Parkour Jam Session" in Kansas City, Mo.
  • In a "Dew Goes Pro" challenge, teams attended and brought sampling opps to both professional (New York Mets, Durham Bulls, Seattle Mariners) and regional league team games.
  • Each team took part in identifying concerts to "crash," which Dew fans attended with glow sticks, beach balls and ample soda samples. Concerts crashed included Seether, 2am Club with Mike Posner and April Smith & The Great Picture Show.
  • All three teams were on hand for the Indy 500 weekend and tour finale. More than 20,000 samples were distributed from locations along the parade route and outside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

PepsiCo recently announced that the White Out flavor won the competition, pulling 44% of votes versus 40% for Typhoon and 16% for Distortion. In total, the campaign reportedly drew more than 2 million votes, and increased the brand's Facebook fans by nearly 800,000.


3 comments about "Mountain Dew Lets Fans Plan Tour, Events".
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  1. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, June 29, 2010 at 7:29 a.m.

    The campaign was great. Very impressed. But mountain Dew does know the posts on their fan page prove NY State (and every state) should be taxing sugary drinks up the wazoo. Kids posting about crushing a 12 pack of Dew in 3 hours? And then of course they have allowed porn sites to post links on the page too. Is that what Dewmocracy is? Allowing porn on your fan page? LOL

  2. John Capone from Whalebone, June 29, 2010 at 9:33 a.m.

    The people have spoken.

  3. Mario P Cloutier, July 2, 2010 at 9:30 a.m.

    I had been already quite impressed by Dewmocracy -1-... Dewmocracy 2 is now ellevating the marketing integration and the audience engagement to new heights. This is great news for the whole industry. Congrats guys!

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