Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dewlabs Member Gets Huge Prop From USA Today

Fellow Dewlabs member Ron Buckman got huge props in a USA today article that describes his involvement in the creation of white out. Ron and I have met and hung out a bit, and I must say that if anybody deserves recognition for White Out, it is him. Bellow is a quote from the article, originally found here, that talks about Ron and what's next for Dewlabs.
Ron Buckman considers himself an everyday person. The resident of Fraser, Mich., is 24, and he’s a sales guy at an Apple retail store at the local mall. But there’s one thing he loves even more than computers: Mountain Dew.
“As soon as I was allowed to drink pop, I was drinking Mountain Dew,” he says. He still drinks at least one a day, he says, and admits to occasionally using it as a mixer with alcohol. So it’s no surprise that he became an active fan on Mountain Dew’s Facebookpage.
But this might be a surprise: He not only helped select the flavor of a recent Mountain Dew drink, he also named it. This was all linked to Mountain Dew’s DEWmocracy campaign that was aimed at giving consumers a say in product creation. Last year, consumers picked one permanent flavor from three limited-time flavors.
Because of Buckman’s constant activity on Mountain Dew’s Facebook page, Buckman was invited by the brand to be a member of its Dew Labs team. That’s a group of Mountain Dew enthusiasts who get to chat amongst themselves online and help create Mountain Dew products. Some even become veritable product guinea pigs — sent test products in advance and asked for detailed comment.
One such citrus product that Buckman was sent last year — along with several other potential flavors that he was shipped in a FedEx box — he rechristened White Out. He loved the flavor so much that he lobbied other Mountain Dew enthusiasts to buy into it and vote for it over the two other flavors in the running. He even got actor Ashton Kutcher to help him promote the flavor via Twitter. His efforts won out. White Out’s been on shelves since October as a permanent flavor.
“Just having a product that I named come to fruition is awesome,” says Buckman, who was not paid for his efforts, although he did get to appear very briefly in a commercial for the new flavor.
He knows the score. Mountain Dew didn’t let him “inside” just for fun. “Companies are smart to let consumers interact and make decisions,” he says. “It’s also free advertising,” when consumers chat about it online, he adds.
Now, Mountain Dew executives want to take it to the next stage. They’re trying to figure out a way to let consumers be more physically hands on in product creation. In other words: actually mixing the next brew.
While Mountain Dew isn’t ready to let consumers inside its new-product labs, it is trying to figure out a way within the next few years to bring the labs to them, says Brett O’Brien, director of marketing for the brand. It’s looking into creating mobile labs, on wheels, that it would send to events, such as snowboarding competitions or summer festivals, where consumers could step in and mix ingredients. “That would be the next step in consumer interaction,” says Buckman. “They’d be building the products with us.”

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