Monday, December 28, 2009

DEW labs: So Far So Good

I have asked some marketing and advertising experts outside of Pepsi to comment on DEW labs in a guest-article format. The goal is to provide some context and perspective for the more recent crowd-sourcing social media campaigns captained by the Mountain Dew brand team. The folks at Jay Advertising (also on Twitter) have generously taken the time to kick off this series of guest authored authoritative articles:

As with most every agency, the addition of social media and networking to our communications arsenal is a priority, and it’s gaining traction. The exciting part is that our clients are increasingly more receptive to development of social media and networking strategies. They see the value of leveraging a more personal consumer interaction with their brands, and coordinating that interaction with traditional marketing approaches.

Consumer involvement in the DNA of a company’s brand is not necessarily a new idea though. Focus groups, surveys, even man-on-the-street interviews have always been the litmus test for everything from product development to marketing concepts for every major brand on the planet. The difference is that social media now allows for a wider net to be cast (excuse the pun), and directly involves the consumer in the brand at an entirely different level and far earlier in the process.

Social media and networks give the consumer, collectively and individually, a platform from which to speak, and subsequently, more clout than ever. What once was an easily dismissed (or missed) letter with a suggestion sent to an address on the back of a cereal box or bottle of laundry detergent, is now a viral video or web-based community with over a million members. As a result, retail players—like Mountain Dew—are evolving their business models to ensure brand integrity and drive loyalty, right down to John and Jane Q. Public, by embracing and respecting the voice of the consumer.

As an autonomous fan-only entity that interacts directly with the Mountain Dew brand team, DEWlabs is a great idea. The campaign’s efforts to leverage social networks and democratize the process of creating new products, accurately reflects the direction that marketing is heading. Not so much the product development aspect, as idea generation and social involvement. Google has been developing tools and applications for years with this model. But while Google’s focus is functionality, DEWlabs use of crowdsourcing is for marketing the Dew brand, first and foremost. Actual product development is how the loop is closed with the consumer—their thumbprint on the new product is the reward for their loyalty.

What’s happening is that Mountain Dew is getting in better touch with its consumers. They have to in order to stay nimble, relative, and win the battle for the increasingly shorter windows of consumer consideration. They are also being pitched new strategies and fresh creative from a seemingly infinite number of sources—boutique shops, animation houses, and freelance teams—as evidenced by the shops that have won the new Dew business. Social media and networking have opened the door to more than just consumers.

The true test of the continued success and longevity of DEWlabs will rely on whether or not the Mountain Dew fan base feels as though they are actually being heard and getting something out of the relationship. So far, so good.

Jay Advertising has been in business for over 35 years, putting our Brand Intelligence, Retail Response to work for automotive, financial services, health care and chain-based retail clients across the country. We’re headquartered in Rochester, NY with field teams in NYC and LA.

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