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Mtn Dew Breaks Baja Blast Out of Taco Bell

Drink Once Exclusive to Chain Hits Stores for Limited Time With Big Support

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Mtn Dew is pulling out all the stops for this summer's Baja Blast limited-time offering, tapping Dale Earnhardt Jr., Olympic snowboarder Danny Davis and pro-skateboarder Paul Rodriguez for an "Ocean's Eleven"-inspired video.

For the last 10 years, Mtn Dew has sold its Baja Blast flavor exclusively at Taco Bell. The "tropical lime" flavor was designed to pair well with Taco Bell food and is a hit with its customers -- the pale green concoction is outpaced only by Pepsi at its restaurants. Now, PepsiCo is distributing it in stores and throwing its marketing muscle behind what it expects will be the largest limited-time offering in Mtn Dew history. Baja Blast in bottles and cans hits shelves this week and will be available while supplies last, likely through the summer.

Greg Lyons, VP-marketing at Mtn Dew, said that when he joined the brand early last year he asked what the No. 1 from consumers was. "The past few years it has been for us to launch Baja Blast, and we finally reached a way to do it in a way that was a win-win for us and Taco Bell." He added that the brand had collected 30,000 tweets requesting the flavor in bottles and cans in recent years.

For Taco Bell, the limited-time offering has the potential to raise awareness -- just 40% of Mtn Dew consumers are aware of the flavor -- and drive traffic when the limited-time offering ends and Baja Blast can only be found at its restaurants.

"We think it will drive broader interest outside our core base of consumers," said Hamilton Brown, senior director-marketing at Taco Bell. "In fact, 75% of the flavor's fans say it's a major factor in their decision to visit Taco Bell, which is why we are excited for more people to try it this summer, and help drive the beverage business longer-term when the flavor is back on fountain exclusively at the end of summer."

"The loyalty and excitement over this launch is like nothing I've ever seen," Mr. Lyons added, highlighting a photo a consumer had tweeted of himself in a bathtub filled with Baja Blast.

At a time when soft-drink sales are in a downward spiral, Baja Blast is a rare bright spot. The flavor has generated more than $1 billion in sales for Taco Bell since its introduction. And it's growing rapidly: According to Beverage Digest, Baja Blast volume grew 49% in 2013, compared to 2012. The category as a whole declined 3% last year.

The popularity of the flavor and the hope that it will offer a halo to the rest of the Mtn Dew lineup led the brand to plan a "significant" amount of marketing for the offering, Mr. Lyons said, adding that limited time offerings don't often get broad advertising support.

In addition to the digital video, there is a 15-second spot and a mobile game, Baja or Bust, modeled after the popular Motocross Elite app. Agency Motive led the creative effort, while VaynerMedia handled social media, though Mr. Lyons said the trademark's entire roster was involved in the project. Mtn Dew spent $50 million on measured media last year, according to Kantar Media.

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