New Creative Approaches To Mountain Dew Cultural Studies Essay

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PepsiCo was widely considered to be one of the most sophisticated and aggressive marketing companies in the world. In North America, the company had three divisions, each with category- leading brands. Pepsi and Mountain Dew were the number two and three soft drinks. Some of the salient points of the case are presented initially before the analysis of the creative brief provided by BBDO. These points, in my assessment are the factors to be considered while analysing this question and subsequent questions and have been picked up from the case directly.

The Carbonated Soft Drinks Category - The retail carbonated soft drinks (CSD) category had long been dominated by the two cola giants, Coke and Pepsi. CSDs were a promotion intensive category. In most grocery stores, Coke and Pepsi controlled a great deal of shelf space and displays. Product, promotion, packaging, and pricing innovations were constant though usually incremental, quickly diffusing throughout the category. In the last decade, one of the major innovations in the category had been the 20-ounce single serve bottle, usually priced at $.99 and sold as an impulse purchase. both Pepsi and Mountain Dew had substantial make-overs in the 1990s resulting in richer and more vibrant colours and simplified graphics. Other brands, including 7-UP and Sprite also executed similar packaging re- designs.

Advertising and Branding - Over many decades, Coca-Cola had become "America's drink" (and later the preferred drink in many countries around the world) through advertising that conveyed that Coke served as a social elixir. More recently, Pepsi used celebrities-particularly musicians such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, Faith Hill, Ricky Martin, and Mary J. Blige-to convey the idea that Pepsi was an expression of youth attitudes. 7-UP was successful in the 1970s branding against the colas as the "uncola" in ads that used a charismatic Jamaican actor to describe the purity and naturalness of 7-UP in a tropical setting. From the late 1980s onward, 7-UP faded as the brand was used as a cash cow with ever-shrinking media investments. Meanwhile, Mountain Dew rose from its regional status to become a major "flavour" brand. The three major flavour brands dominated different geographic areas: Dr Pepper dominated Texas and the rest of the deep South, Mountain Dew dominated rural areas, particularly in the Midwest and Southeast, and Sprite dominated urban-ethnic areas. PepsiCo spent substantially less as a percentage of sales than its competitors. Instead, the company relied on exceptional creative to make the advertising work harder for less cost. PepsiCo viewed the creative development process as a key organizational competency, a strategic weapon that was central to their financial success.

Mountain Dew Brand History - Mountain Dew was invented by the Hartman Beverage Company in Knoxville, Tennessee in the late 1940s. The major campaign of the 1970s-"Hello Sunshine"- sought to tie Mountain Dew's distinctive product characteristics to a set of backcountry recreational images. The energizing effects of the caffeine and sugar are toned down and now are a refreshing part of an active outdoor lifestyle. Often the ads featured casual coed athletic activities that always ended in a plunge into a rural pond or creek. This campaign pulled the Mountain Dew brand into more contemporary terrain, but it was still too rural to get much traction in the suburbs. So in the 1980s, PepsiCo directly targeted suburban teenagers with a new campaign called "Country Cool."

Cultural Trends: PepsiCo and BBDO managers paid close attention to cultural trends. They were particularly focused on track music and sports trends since these activities were so central to youth culture.

Music: Gangsta rap and gangsta lite, grunge, techno music including raves

Sports: The so-called "alternative sports" took off in the early 1990s. Teen enthusiasts transformed casual hobby activities-mountain biking, skateboarding, paragliding, BMX biking, and in-line skating-into highly technical, creative, and often dangerous sports. Snowboarding became an overnight hit with teens.

GenX Ethos: During the 1990s, teens and young adults evinced a growing cynicism toward the dominant work-oriented values of the previous generation and toward corporations more generally.

Do the Dew campaign and issues - Very successful campaign from the early 1990s - featuring slogan "been there, done that". However they lacked creative evolution to an extent as they have packages the central theme differently to create new ads - this was the reason for people to lose interests in Mountain Dew. In 1997, BBDO came up with two breakthrough spots. The director of Nirvana's classic music video "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was hired to direct Thank Heaven, which mimics a music video. Jackie Chan deploys the Hong Kong movie star's patented martial arts with humorous stunts into the campaign's jaded, "seen it already" motif. The ad begins in the midst of what seems like a classic chase scene from a Chan film with lots of harrowing action. When Chan faces down his enemy, the Dew Dudes magically appear as Confucian wisemen who assist Chan with cans of Mountain Dew. By 1998, PepsiCo managers worried that the advertising was becoming too predictable. In particular, they were concerned that the use of alternative sports was becoming less impactful due to over-saturation. Parking Attendant, produced in 1999, was a solid effort at advancing toward an alternative expression.

Market Research - Mountain Dew had much lower penetration of the total population than its major competitors. But its consumers were the most loyal in the category. The latest study, conducted in the spring of 1999, reported Mountain Dew's teen KPIs. Dew improved 6 points on "Dew Tastes Better" (to 48% versus a year ago). Unaided brand awareness had dropped 5 points (to 39%). "For someone like me" had increased 5 points (to 53%). And "Dew Drinkers are Cool" increased 5 points (to 64%).

2000 Planning - Questions to answer:

How to keep the "Do the Dew" campaign working hard to build the brand given that extreme sports were becoming overexposed?

How to respond to the growing threat of non-CSDs, especially Gatorade and the new highly- caffeinated and sugary energy drinks like Red Bull?

A detailed strategy statement was developed by Moffitt's team at Pepsi-Cola North America, in conjunction with the account team at BBDO New York led by Cathy Israelevitz. This strategy was boiled down to a single sentence to focus the development of new creative: Symbolize that drinking Mountain Dew is an exhilarating experience.

Super Bowl: The Super Bowl had for decades been a hugely influential event for advertisers. The game drew the biggest audience of the year and the ads received an amazing amount of attention. The media paid almost as much attention to the ads shown as to the teams and players. A Super Bowl ad now had a huge ripple effect in free public relations. To "win" the Super Bowl (to be voted the top ad in the USA Today Ad Meter poll reported in the newspaper the following day) was a prestigious honor within the industry. Finally, Super Bowl ads provided a powerful sales tool to motivate retailers and distributors.

The New Creative: BBDO representatives had just finished working on 10 new concepts - Pepsi senior managers were expected to select three ads to produce. The two best ads would run on the Super Bowl and then all three ads would be broadcast throughout 2000. The ten initial concepts were quickly whittled down to five finalists.

Labor of Love. A humorous spot about the birth of a Dew drinker. The doctor in the delivery room calls out "code green" and retreats to catch with a baseball mitt the baby as it shoots out of its mother like a cannon.

Cheetah. One of the Dew Dudes chases down a cheetah on a mountain bike. The cheetah, running on the African plain, has stolen his Dew and he wants it back. He tackles the cat, pulls the can out of the cat's stomach, but finds that it's empty and full of holes.

Dew or Die. The Dew Dudes are called in to foil the plot of an evil villain who is threatening to blow up the planet. Performing daredevil manoeuvres down a mountain, they get sidetracked in a ski lodge with some girls, but accidentally save the world anyway, powered by a spilt can of Dew.

Mock Opera. A parody of the Queen song Bohemian Rhapsody sung by the Dew Dudes who mock the cover of the original Queen album. The ad portrays the story of the altered lyrics: alternative sports action in which the athletes just miss cans of Dew as they shoot by.

Showstopper. A take-off on an extravagantly choreographed production number that mimics a Buzby Berkeley musical/dance film from the 1930s. The dancers are silver-clad BMX riders and skateboarders who perform for the Dew Dudes posing as directors.

From exhibit 3, it becomes clear that the communication strategy of mountain dew all along has been around excitement, daring experiences, thrill, targeting the young segment extending an aura of the wow/cool factor that corresponds to the brand mountain dew. And the creative briefs suggested by BBDO were again on similar lines which Mountain Dew epitomized in al these years (as captured as part of numeric bullets).

Question 2: What is Moffitt's problem? What's your recommendation?

Answer: Moffitt's had a few serious questions to answer in the year 2000.

How to keep the "Do the Dew" campaign working hard to build the brand given that extreme sports were becoming overexposed?

How to respond to the growing threat of non-CSDs, especially Gatorade and the new highly- caffeinated and sugary energy drinks like Red Bull?

In addition to these strategic issues, Moffitt had to consider carefully where these ads would be broadcast. Mountain Dew's national media plan focused on a younger audience. Typical buys would include MTV, The Simpson's, and ESPN during alternative sports broadcasts. Partly in recognition of this expanding customer base and partly to celebrate within the company Dew's arrival as the third most popular CSD, top management decided to feature Mountain Dew rather than Pepsi during the Super Bowl.

Mountain Dew had much lower penetration of the total population than its major competitors. But its consumers were the most loyal in the category. Super Bowl was an amazing platform for the companies to get maximum coverage. In my opinion, Motiff's decision to project Dew at the Super Bowl was right - they could re-establish themselves as the most creative advertisers by designing an ad with a reasonable chance of bagging the top award. Additionally this would increase their presence amongst the retailers and distributors and would be a perfect platform to boost their sagging sales.

Question 3: What criteria would you use to evaluate the creative alternatives? Evaluate each of the alternatives using the criteria suggested?

Answer: BBDO representatives had just finished working on 10 new concepts - Pepsi senior managers were expected to select three ads to produce. The two best ads would run on the Super Bowl and then all three ads would be broadcast throughout 2000. The ten initial concepts were quickly whittled down to five finalists.

Labor of Love. A humorous spot about the birth of a Dew drinker. The doctor in the delivery room calls out "code green" and retreats to catch with a baseball mitt the baby as it shoots out of its mother like cannon.

Cheetah. One of the Dew Dudes chases down a cheetah on a mountain bike. The cheetah, running on the African plain, has stolen his Dew and he wants it back. He tackles the cat, pulls the can out of the cat's stomach, but finds that it's empty and full of holes.

Dew or Die. The Dew Dudes are called in to foil the plot of an evil villain who is threatening to blow up the planet. Performing daredevil manoeuvres down a mountain, they get sidetracked in a ski lodge with some girls, but accidentally save the world anyway, powered by a spilt can of Dew.

Mock Opera. A parody of the Queen song Bohemian Rhapsody sung by the Dew Dudes who mock the cover of the original Queen album. The ad portrays the story of the altered lyrics: alternative sports action in which the athletes just miss cans of Dew as they shoot by.

Showstopper. A take-off on an extravagantly choreographed production number that mimics a Buzby Berkeley musical/dance film from the 1930s. The dancers are silver-clad BMX riders and skateboarders who perform for the Dew Dudes posing as directors.

The criteria to evaluate these creative alternatives are:

Inform (unaware to aware) - Will the customer like the ad? Is it relevant?

Emphasize and help identify unfulfilled need

Describe attributes, benefits and uses of the product

Persuade (awareness to intent) - Will it be noticed? Will it be unique?

Create feelings of interest, familiarity & liking

Create/ strengthen positive associations/ attitudes

Weaken negative associations

Sale/ Retain loyal customers (Intention to Purchase) - Will the ad be able to convey the key messages?

Remind

Ads / Attributes

Inform

Persuade

Sale / Retain loyal customers

Labour of Love

High

Low (Shocking for some)

Medium (low recall quotient)

Cheetah

High

High

High

Dew or Die

High

Low (unrealistic, may not appeal to the target audience)

High

Mock Opera

Low (vague)

Low (key message is unclear)

High

Show Stopper

High

Medium (Repetitive concepts)

High

I would strongly advocate the Cheetah ad followed by Show stopper basis the reasons given above for telecast during the Super Bowl. Cheetah was a potential match winner and goes well with Dew's brand image - yet is very different from the often used and repetitive concepts used by Dew in the past decade.

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