In its latest effort to speak to digitally savvy millennial consumers, Mtn Dew has launched a campaign thanking them by name.
The "Back by Popular Dewmand" program highlights fans' efforts to support a variety of limited-time offers and line extensions, and adds fuel to the frenzy by bringing back three much-loved but discontinued flavors. Coming back to shelves this summer: Pitch Black, launched as a limited-time offer in 2004; Supernova, the runner up in Dewmocracy 1; and Typhoon, the runner up in Dewmocracy 2.
"In 2011, we consistently heard from our consumers, 'But what about our favorite flavors that are no longer in the market?'" explained Zach Harris, senior marketing manager at Mtn Dew. "Instead of creating more new products from scratch, like we've done with Dewmocracy 1 and 2, we decided to celebrate our fans and portfolio by bringing back their favorite flavors."
Mr. Harris said the program isn't meant to replace Dewmocracy, which put new products on shelves in 2008 and 2010, adding that there will be new Dewmocracy programs in the future. Instead "Back by Popular Dewmand" is a way to reward the rabid fans that take to Facebook and Twitter, and even call PepsiCo consumer relations demanding the return of their beloved beverages.
Limited-time offerings have become a cornerstone of the business, bringing new users to the brand and incrementally adding to volume and sales. For example, the Dewmocracy 1 brands accounted for 25 million cases in 2008 -- or a couple hundred million dollars, said John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest. By comparison, Coke Zero, a major growth engine and core brand for Coca-Cola, sold 96 million cases the same year. Mtn Dew is one of the few carbonated soft drinks showing growth.
"Back by Popular Dewmand" has an extensive social-media presence, as well as digital ad buys on sites such as Adult Swim, College Humor, Gizmodo and Rotten Tomatoes. There is also a "significant" radio presence. Banner ads feature the text "Thanks to fans like John," along with a picture of John, who has managed a Facebook page dedicated to bringing Pitch Black back, among other things. Ads also feature Amelia, who has been an avid fan of Supernova and involved with a variety of Mtn Dew programs for the last five years. Radio ads feature several fans' names. Agencies working on the campaign include Tribal, TracyLocke, Motive, Ruder Finn and OMD.
The ad buys are meant to express appreciation but also stoke interest in the brand. "We're trying to educate consumers about fans like John that are excited about the brand," Mr. Harris said. "It shows the larger community how passionate our fans are and then others want to try [the flavors] too."
Mr. Harris said that additional fans could be featured in ads later this summer. For now the focus is on the All-Stars like John and Amelia. Mtn Dew threw parties for each of its seven all-stars -- John went cosmic bowling and Amelia had a backyard board game fete -- and consumers now have a chance to win a party of their own by submitting photos and videos online.
It's too early to comment on how the products are selling, Mr. Harris said, noting that the media buys around the program are just beginning to ramp up. But, he added, "our consumers are excited and the system is excited."