Dr Pepper Targets MTV Generation With 'Band In Bubble' Reality Extravaganza

A new multimedia extravaganza premised on giving young music-lovers the chance to watch a band with buzz--Cartel--record their next album while encased in a "bubble" promises to give new meaning to the phrase "transparency in advertising."

Cadbury Schweppes' Dr Pepper is the main sponsor of the reality-based blitz, but MTV, Wal-Mart and KFC are also getting into the act.

The event, produced by Mediaedge:cia and True Entertainment, calls for Cartel's every move (don't ask) between their entry into the bubble structure on May 24 and their "release" on June 12 to be broadcast on various media.

In addition to a live MTV broadcast of the bubble entry event, the curious will be able to keep tabs on the band 24/7 through Web cam coverage on a designated Web site (drpepperbubble.com); view footage on a reality show aired on MTV and MTV2 during four 30-minute music special episodes in May and June; view footage and on-demand episodes online at http://MTV.com; and hear commercials/coverage on radio stations nationwide.



Those in the New York metro area can also go down to Pier 54 on the Hudson River where the bubble will reside, watch the spectacle, and have a chance to communicate with the five boys in the band via a two-way microphone hook-up.

Nor do the promotional elements stop there. Dr Pepper products bearing special codes will give purchasers chances to earn points and enter a sweepstakes for prizes like guitars signed by Cartel members and VIP trips to New York to watch the "bubble bursting" in June. Purchasers will also have chances to interact with the band, see exclusive views inside the bubble, and download free Cartel ringtones and computer wallpaper. Wal-Mart, the official retail partner for the effort, will feature in-store promotions touting coded Dr Pepper products in its food and music sections--and receive exposure on the Web site and other media, as well as expected sales increases, in return.

Meanwhile, participating KFC restaurants will put codes on in-store POS materials and large to-go food bags and attach coupons enabling more exclusive access to the bubble action on the Dr Pepper site (a free song download and chances for those VIP NYC trips, for example).

So what's the presumably astronomical tab for all of these media elements--not to mention for building/maintaining a 2,000-square-foot fiberglass and steel structure that provides state-of-the-art recording capabilities? Dr Pepper et al. aren't talking.

However, Lee Doyle, CEO of Mediaedge:cia in North America, did offer a bit more insight into the idea's genesis. "Using media events has always been a core element of the Dr Pepper strategy, because it gets consumers, distributors, bottlers and retailers excited about the brand," he told Marketing Daily. Research on the targeted young audience confirmed its desire for real-time events and interactivity, and the band-in-a-bubble concept fit the bill, Doyle says.

As for how the promotion ties in with Dr Pepper's current "There's more to it" theme, ads bearing that theme will appear on the MTV broadcasts. Just as important, the hook to the coded products is: "The more you buy, the more access you get" to the band, Doyle notes.

"Dr Pepper has had more than three years of big growth, and we wanted to take advantage of this and solidify our message with our fans," adds the brand's Vice President/Marketing, Andrew Springate, who says the promotional concept met approval because it was "so interactive."

Of course, the promotion's main draw will be watching to see if Cartel can produce a hit follow-up to their successful debut album while in their fishbowl for six weeks, or instead be remembered mainly for a stunt that could make Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" (or Milli Vinilli's late '80's exposure as a pseudo band) look discreet.

Either way, the sponsors aren't likely to lose.

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