The effort, which began earlier this month, includes a story-based game that features a live-action short film (directed by actor Forest Whitaker, who also provides a voiceover). An animated story presents various challenges that will give consumers the tools to develop every aspect of the new drink, including color, flavor and label graphics. The idea, Pepsi says, came from Mattie Leshem and his firm, Protagonist.
The company has targeted "Millennial" consumers (ages 18-29) as well as Mountain Dew enthusiasts and online gamers for the promotion. "To the best of our knowledge, a brand has never given consumers this much control," says a company representative. "We felt that the best way to fully engage consumers would be to give them the power to create a new product."
Upon logging on to the site, www.dewmocracy.com, players are introduced to a virtual world, in which each person is asked to join one of three teams. The live-action video posits a world where "creative freedom" and corporate profits rule over all. As the video progresses, the lead actor is positioned as "the chosen one" who will fill a "magic gourd" (i.e., a bottle) to "restore the soul of mankind."
As the game proceeds into the virtual world, participants move into different chambers where they select the flavor of their drink, color and marketing characteristics. The gamers will eventually be combined into three teams that will lobby for their candidate in the real world. Official voting will take place in February, with the new product launching sometime thereafter.
"Ultimately, the drink will be on the street and in stores where you get to see it, touch it, taste it, drink it, make it a part of you; bringing you from the virtual world to the real world," Whitaker said in a statement.
Pepsi will hype the game mostly through online sources--although the company has prepared a 30-second television spot and outdoor executions to promote "DEWmocracy," according to a company representative.