Diet Mtn Dew steps
out from shadow
of flagship brand
The consistently well-performing brand scores
a marketing budget, a smart tagline and a Nascar star
■ BY NATALIE ZMUDA firstname.lastname@example.org
DIET MTN DEW is all grown up.
The newly minted billion-dollar
brand is officially out from under the
flagship’s shadow, gaining a dedicated
tagline, marketing manager and a boost
in spending. And in a coup for Diet Mtn
Dew, it has assumed sponsorship of
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Nascar car from
Pepsi’s Amp brand. Not bad for a product that began life as a line extension.
“We hadn’t put a lot of resources
behind [Diet Mtn Dew],” said Brett
O’Brien, VP-marketing for Mtn Dew
and flavored carbonated drinks. “It was
something that you found and then you
were in this exclusive club, because we
didn’t talk about it much. As that exclu-
sive club grew bigger and bigger, it
became clear we had to put some dedi-
cated resources against it.”
Founded in 1988, Diet Mtn Dew has
had strong growth even as the carbon-
ated-soft-drink category slowed in
recent years. The brand, targeted at Gen
X males, cracked the top 10 soda brands
in 2005 with a 1.4% share of the total
market, according to Beverage Digest.
In 2010 it had a 2% share of the $74 bil-
Full-year figures aren’t available yet
for 2011, but Beverage Digest reports
that, excluding fountain sales, Diet Mtn
Dew’s volume was up 2%, while the
Nascar’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. appears in ads for
Diet Mtn Dew, which sponsors his car.
overall category’s declined 0.5%.
The brand increased sales by skirting
the “diet” stigma carried by some other
soft-drink brands that appeal to Gen X
males. Diet Mtn Dew skews 60% male
and 40% female, while the base brand is
“We attribute this to the strength of
the Dew brand with male consumers,”
said a spokeswoman. “The brand halo
from base Dew seems to counter the
negative ‘diet’ perception.”
And with its own marketing budget,
there’s nowhere to go but up. “The suc-
cess of Diet Mtn Dew is a function of
the success of Mtn Dew,” said John
Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage
Digest. “Mtn Dew has consistently
been one of the best-marketed soft-
drink brands in the U.S. As consumers
have gravitated more toward diet sodas,
Diet Mtn Dew has benefited. ... Diet soft
drinks that taste good and are marketed
well have huge growth potential over
the next decade.”
The brand’s first dedicated tagline,
“Yeah, it tastes that good,” drives home
the message that Diet Mtn Dew is at
taste parity with the regular version.
The tagline is prominent in a series of
new commercials that will be in rota-
tion nationally with network buys.
BBDO New York handles creative for
Diet Mtn Dew and Mtn Dew.
PLAYBALL: Soccket combines a game’s popularity with the need for electricity in many Latin American communities.
GOOD NEIGHBOR STATE FARM FINDS
SYNERGY WITH SUSTAINABLE STARTUP
An existing sponsorship was perfect tie-in with
Soccket balls, a novel power-delivery device
■ BY LAUREL WENTZ email@example.com
FOR AN ENGINEERING-CLASS project
at Harvard University, four students
invented a soccer ball that converts play
to energy that can generate light for
communities that lack electricity.
Last year, creatives at U.S. Hispanic
agency Alma came across a video of the
Soccket ball and were intrigued.
“We knew we had to do something
with this ball,” said Diego Yurkievich,
Alma’s senior-VP and executive creative
director. “We sent [the video] explaining
how the ball works to everyone at the
agency, to motivate their minds. We had
it in our back pocket.”
The creative idea: an interactive plat-
form for soccer fans around Alma client
State Farm’s sponsorship of the Gold
Cup, a Latin American soccer champi-
“Play Today, Illuminate Tomorrow”
started with an online game on State
Farm’s Hispanic Facebook page in
which players keep a soccer ball in the
air. For each minute of play, they accrue
points—“virtual minutes of light”—
toward providing soccer balls to Latin
American communities without electricity. Local kids play soccer with the
donated balls, which have a unique feature: Every 15 minutes of play generate
three hours of power (a fully charged
ball) when a light is plugged into a
socket embedded in the ball.
State Farm and Alma reached out to
Julia Silverman, who with former classmate Jessica Matthews formed
Uncharted Play to develop the Soccket
(which they trademarked) ball they had
devised as students. They knew soccer is
popular, Ms. Silverman said. “Kids were
playing it with plastic bags, shoes, even a
brick.” And they knew that 20% of the
world’s population doesn’t have access
to electrical power.
Ms. Silverman (whose background
is in social sciences in the developing
world, not engineering) said the first
model to prove the concept was a shake-to-charge flashlight inside a hamster
ball. That evolved into a soccer ball with
a lamp that plugs directly into it. The
two pieces are distributed as a set.
“About a year ago, Jessica and I said
‘We’re crazy enough to leave our day
jobs to make this project work,’ ” Ms.
Silverman said. Ms. Matthews and Ms.
Silverman gone from two people working out of their New York apartments to
more than seven staffers when State
Farm entered the picture, buying the
balls and helping offset costs.
State Farm’s platform offered participants other ways to earn points toward
donations. They could view freestyle
videos from each of the 12 Latin countries playing in the Gold Cup, or down-load a mobile app.
The goal was to generate 30,000 virtual minutes of light during the Gold
Cup tournament. To everyone’s surprise, the total came to 142,567 virtual
minutes in the first four days, said Juan
Diego Guzman, Alma’s creative director. Hispanic insurance quotes and sales
also spiked. State Farm is distributing
1,500 soccer balls to the top three countries chosen by participants: Mexico,
Costa Rica and El Salvador.
“State Farm is known as the good-neighbor brand and as a good citizen,”
said Tim Van Hoof, assistant VP-marketing communications at the insurer.
“This is an innovative way to help people get to a better state [State Farm’s
motto].” Mr. Van Hoof said he really
liked the way people could send balls to
their native country, which enables
State Farm to help those in the U.S. continue to be good neighbors back home.
Ms. Silverman said Uncharted Play
hopes to have a mass-produced consumer version sold on Soccket.com by
the fall. Soccket is being tweaked to make
it more durable than the average soccer
ball. It will also be more multipurpose.
“We’re getting other devices ready
to scale up, like a water purifier and a
cellphone charger, and we’re working on
a more energy-efficient lamp,”
Ms. Silverman said.
An American Express members’
project, Take Part, helped make an
explanatory video posted on the Soccket
site. Though State Farm is the only
marketer to work with Uncharted Play
so far, Ms.Silverman hopes to find more
left their day