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:
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.