Mtn Dew Plans Big Spending Boost Behind Kickstart, Diet Dew

New Flavors, Super Bowl Pregame Ads Are Coming

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PepsiCo has a new pitch for soda drinkers: You can now Do the Dew all day long.

Kickstart
Kickstart

The marketer's Mtn Dew brand is following last year's successful Kickstart morning beverage launch with new flavors aimed at nighttime consumption. The flavors, called "Energizing" Black Cherry and Limeade, will be backed with a significant marketing investment, including ads that will debut during the Super Bowl pregame show on Fox on Feb. 2, said Greg Lyons, Mtn Dew's VP for marketing.

Sometimes marketers "move on to the next shiny object and they don't support things in year two," he said. But Mtn Dew, he said, is "really leaning into year two on Kickstart and actually going to spend more on Kickstart in year two from a marketing standpoint than we did in year one."

Specifically, the line extension will get a 35% media-spending boost, compared with last year. In the first 10 months of 2013, Kickstart received $17.5 million in measured media, according to the most recent data from Kantar Media.

PepsiCo is also planning to double its media investment on Diet Mtn Dew, which will launch a new campaign during the Super Bowl pregame show that includes a new tagline: "It's the Only Diet with Dew In It." The beverage got $18 million in measured media from January to October last year, according to Kantar.

Overall spending on the Mtn Dew megabrand will grow 20% in 2014, according to the brand, whose agency is Omnicom Group's BBDO.

Mtn Dew Kickstart's 2013 Ad Targeted Mornings
Mtn Dew Kickstart's 2013 Ad Targeted Mornings

PepsiCo executives are confident that they they have a hit on their hands with Kickstart, which launched in February of 2013 in orange-citrus and fruit-punch flavors that combine the taste and carbonation of Mtn Dew with 5% fruit juice and a dose of caffeine. Sales surged to more than $100 million in the first six months, according to PepsiCo. Importantly for the brand, 10% of the the volume came from outside a broadly defined canned and bottled beverage category that includes soda, energy drinks and juices. That meant plenty of consumers switched to Kickstart from beverages like home-brewed tea and coffee, Mr. Lyons said.

Kickstart "certainly has gained a following," said John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest. So "attempting to add additional day parts makes total sense," he said, referring to the new evening flavors. "I think PepsiCo appears to have the beginnings of a potentially nice little success on their hands."

It is a much needed-boost for the company, which like other beverage marketers has struggled to grow its soda brands in recent years. But Mtn Dew has been able to gain share. In the first nine months of 2013, carbonated soft drink category sales fell by 4.3% at retail not including fountain sales and vending. But Mtn Dew was only down 2.4%, while Diet Dew was down 3.5%, according to Beverage Digest.

Kickstart's Nightime Slogan
Kickstart's Nightime Slogan

Ads for the new Kickstart flavors will include the tagline "Kickstart Your Night." Scenes include men preparing to go out for the evening, mixed with footage of rocket launches, which are meant to be a "metaphor for getting you up for the night," Mr. Lyons said. The sampling program will include trucks called "Night Machines" that will include music and lights and travel nationwide beginning in New York City during Super Bowl week.

The beverage, which comes in tall, 16-oz cans, contains 5% juice, 80 calories and 92 mg of caffeine. A 16-oz Starbuck's coffee, by comparison, has 330 mg of caffeine, while the same size Monster energy drink has 160 mg, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The goal with the new Kickstart flavors is to mirror the morning version by sourcing volume from a wide array of beverage alternatives, including coffee and tea. "There's nothing else positioned exactly like it," Mr. Lyons said. He referred to it as a "sparkling juice beverage" that provides a "little bit of a pick-me up with some refreshment cues, as well."

Meanwhile, the new investment in Diet Dew comes as the brand is seeking more trial. The new tagline is less about taste than the old line: "Yeah, It Tastes Good." While the typical barrier for diet soda drinks is taste, "that's not the case with Diet Dew," Mr. Lyons said. The brand has a high rate of repeat drinkers, but low household penetration at about 10% in the past year, he said.

"The No. 1 barrier was it just wasn't in people's consideration set, especially Gen X males," he said. "So we have a very simple marketing job there, which is to drive awareness and trial."

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