DMNews talks with Marc Hanson, marketing manager, Mountain Dew

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DMNews talks with Marc Hanson, marketing manager, Mountain Dew
DMNews talks with Marc Hanson, marketing manager, Mountain Dew

Marc Hanson, marketing manager at Mountain Dew, discusses the interactive DEWmocracy campaign, which led to a new fan-created flavor.

What were the specific components of the DEWmocracy campaign?

DEWmocracy is a very interesting platform because it is very nontraditional, multifaceted and multilayered. The campaign started in November 2007 with an online experience where we invited consumers to create the options to be the next Mountain Dew flavor. That phase of the experience ended within 2 1/2 months. Then, we started asking consumers to campaign for each of the three drinks they created. That lasted for about six months until all three products launched in market, which was June 2008. This was a 14-week limited time offer. We invited consumers to vote for their favorite product after they tried all three. This gave them a national stage to have their voice heard. After those 14 weeks, we announced who the winner: Mountain Dew Voltage (a raspberry-citrus flavor), after we tallied to votes. Voltage went into stores in January 2009, and it is doing extremely well thus far.

What are the challenges of gaining consumer involvement?

Mountain Dew has an ongoing conversation with our consumers. We are pretty active in the social media space with a Facebook page and a number of other tools. So, that was a great kind of database of consumers to start tapping into to get the ball rolling and getting a core group of consumers involved. Beyond that, in the initial stages of DEWmocracy, we leveraged various layers of PR and advertising in the digital and offline space to draw in a wider consumer group. We tried to convey the story of the experience and convey what we were doing to get more people involved. But it really started with the core Mountain Dew consumers.

What are the advantages to using gaming for an interactive campaign like this?

We've been doing a lot of things with gaming over the last several years, and we wanted to make sure it was incorporated in this campaign. Gaming is a really interesting and interactive way to drive the plot of the story. So there was a background story that fans were being drawn in through. At the same time, it gave consumers something very tangible that they could play, experience and pass onto friends. The gaming helped keep consumers engaged in the digital space for a longer period of time.

The campaign was partially meant to increase brand loyalty, is this becoming a focus of Mountain Dew's marketing strategy?

I think Mountain Dew has a very loyal fan base. So anything we've done for as long as I can remember has been designed around driving loyalty. DEWmocracy is just another way to do it in the digital spectrum. Loyalty is always at the center of what we're doing.

What was the most surprising result from the campaign?

There were two things that were really surprising. The first was the level of engagement. We had consumers spending an average of 27 minutes on the site, which is compared to an industry average of four to six minutes. So, 27 minutes of engagement was beyond our wildest dreams and just kind of spoke for the passion of our fans and how involved they wanted to be.

Also, we thought that during the experience one beverage would start rising to the top. But it seemed that we had a lot of passion behind all three products. The original idea was to only launch the winning product from the digital experience. But we ended up launching all three nationally at the same time to give consumers a broader stage to try their product, pass it along to their friends, vote and be involved with it.

Is this something that Mountain Dew plans on doing in the future?

The important thing to note is that it still hasn't ended; it's a very organic community. DEWmocracy has kind of morphed into, so a lot of those elements of consumer engagement and participation in the online experience are still there. There were consumer-generated or consumer-recommended launch events that helped to launch the product in early January. So, consumer participation is the common thread.

We're also trying to think of ways to revisit DEWmocracy to re-engage consumers in a new task with a new spin on it. We are hoping that it is an enduring platform that will serve as a consumer participation platform for us. This is not to say that DEWmocracy is the only thing that we do in that space, but it was more visible because it was tied to a product.


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