Another crummy video commercial, another “sorry if we offended anyone” apology. And another miss by marketing analysts as to what should be the key take-aways from the incident.
Mountain Dew is, on the one hand, a phenomenal story re: product and marketing. High in sugar, high in caffeine, and high in weird coloring for a carbonated beverage, it nevertheless reached the #4 spot as measured by U.S. volume, trailing only Coke, Diet Coke and Pepsi.
On the other hand, Mountain Dew is – pun intended – a story of “flat.” Essentially flat volume growth for many years now, and thus flat market share.
Numerous product-line extensions have supplemented the main “Green Dew” business in this century. Some have been basic flavor/color related, such as Code Red. Others have tried to go out of category – such as AMP, and now Kickstart, into the energy-drink sector.
Through all these product changes, the Dew’s core target has continued to be hip white teens who [blank] board – fill in the blank with “snow” or “skate” or “wake” or “water” or “game” or “whatever.” There are, of course, a limited supply of such people.
So, for a couple of years now, the folks at PepsiCo have either directly or unknowingly approved of some curious marketing initiatives by Mountain Dew brand managers to grow the business outside the core target segment. No product changes per se, just adjustments to positioning and creative.
Long story short, the urban adventure for Mountain Dew has not been excellent. The culmination = the goat video spot (aptly named) that was pulled last week due to consumer blowback. We guess that the corporate marketers at PepsiCo jumped into this one, weren’t happy to, and that will probably cost a couple of Dew brand marketers their jobs.
Guessing aside, we do believe it is time for senior leadership at PepsiCo to rethink its approach to target-segment expansion for Mountain Dew. Under current course and speed, we only see more goats. Which will continue to erode the core brand.
It’s time for a new product – either a subbrand under Mountain Dew, or a new brand in its own right - to be the vehicle to reach the intended target segment.
Pepsi marketers can refer to their own case study for help on this one: AMP used to be “Mountain Dew AMP,” way back in the day. The two brands later went their separate ways, and Mountain Dew finally removed its name from AMP packaging last year.