FMCG: Mountain Dew Skate Pinball

Frucor has long been strong in energy, juice and hydration. But Coca-Cola dominated the carbonated soft drinks (CSD) category, with strong brands in cola and lemonade, as well as fruity brands like L&P, Lift, Fanta and Schweppes. Comparatively, however, these brands were relatively weak and largely unsupported, meaning there was no clear market leader, a long tail of low performing-brands and an opportunity for Mountain Dew to grab share-of-shelf through expansion.  

Easier said than done of course. Coca-Cola practically wrote the book on marketing, makes up half of all CSDs purchased in New Zealand and has a massive marketing budget estimated to be fifteen times that of Frucor. And, last year, Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the Rugby World Cup and the All Blacks meant it was actively trying to block in-store display space for competitors with exclusivity deals and incentives. 

Historically, previous launches by Frucor had been focused on single flavours, small communications objectives and global initiatives. But it needed to take things up a few notches if it was to reach its audacious business goals, so it embarked on a project that involved significant new product development and an epic communications idea. 

What’s new

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9yNHQZf0WoConsideration for Mountain Dew was low and it had less than five percent market share. The taste was also known to be polarising, but a previous launch of a new flavour called Code Red had successfully brought new consumers to the brand, so it worked with brand owner PepsiCo International to create three new flavours—orange ‘Livewire’, grape ‘Pitch Black’ and berry ‘Electro Shock’. 

Coca-Cola’s proliferation of pack-sizes meant it could create huge visibility in-store, so Frucor needed to expand its format range and lower the barriers to purchase. As a result, it was able to build a business case for a new $10 million in-house can manufacturing line. And, after PepsiCo International gave approval to go ahead with one of the most ambitious Mountain Dew brand extensions seen outside of the USA, it launched 19 new SKUs on the same day across multiple channels and pack formats. 

Research into its young school-age target showed they were dismissive of traditional marketing (just 18 percent believed advertising messages), suspicious of big brands, often rejected American campaigns and were influenced more by their conversations with friends. So rather than communicating Mountain Dew’s global strapline ‘Do the Dew’ in a traditional format, Frucor tried to bring that philosophy to life in the real world. 

Nielsen insights found 18 percent of Mountain Dew consumers were skaters, vs nine percent for CSDs overall, so, taking inspiration from its long association with extreme sports, Frucor and its agency partners created a fully functioning giant pinball machine enabling skaters and BMXers to become human pinballs.  


To launch the park, it held a competition with 30 of New Zealand’s top skaters, which was run in conjunction with Cheapskates, and then opened it to the public for three weeks. 

It partnered with TVNZ’s youth channel U to create a ten-episode TV series and a 30-minute show documenting the skatepark build. And a TVC aired on opening weekend to introduce the new flavours and promote the park via an interactive website.  

It also needed shelf space, so, as well as some stand-out packaging, it also embarked on a national trade roadshow, visiting each head office of the major grocery and oils accounts and delivering a tailored presentation explaining its aspirations, its new products and the kick-ass campaign it had concocted.   


Starting off in 6th position, Mountain Dew quickly became the no. 1 fruity CSD in oil and no. 2  across the market. And after launch it dropped back to sit in the number three position having overtaken Fanta, Lift and Bundaberg in size.

Incremental sales were up 82 percent, and, importantly, the core brand wasn’t cannibalised, with the campaign driving a 103 percent sales increase for Mountain Dew Original that was maintained since launch. 

Over the launch period, the sales team hit its distribution targets and built significant in-store displays, with share-of-shelf at least doubling in most stores. 

Brand health measures were off the charts among youth (‘Brand I love’ was up 210 percent, ‘Is Cool’ was up 37 percent and ‘Setting the trends’ was up 311 percent), which should help grease the wheels for future growth. And the campaign well exceeded Colmar Brunton’s norms, tracking in the top ten percent for enjoyability and recording the highest ever score on its New Zealand records for differentiation.  

As hoped, the scale of the endeavour captured the imagination of the public, generating $500,000 of earned media in New Zealand and being featured on more than 100 global news channels and 1000 websites and blogs. The ‘godfather of skateboarding’ Tony Hawk even tweeted about it. 

PepsiCo International were so impressed with the results they sent the strategy document to all bottlers globally as a best practice guide and awarded two prestigious internal awards to Frucor—‘Best Developed Pepsi Market’ and the ‘Uncontainable Award’ for best Mountain Dew initiative.

We’ll drink to that. 

Award: BrandWorld Fast Moving Consumer Goods

Winner: Frucor Beverages

The partners: PepsiCo International, Colenso BBDO, Brand Spanking Promotions, OMD

Judge’s comment: “What made Mountain Dew really cross the line first was they brought a global brand into a local market and not only that, it was a global brand that was kind of uncool. It really didn’t resonate with the New Zealand market and if you could sum up why they won I think it’s three things. 1) it was brave. 2) it was extremely well executed and 3) there was an element of risk because localising a global brand is difficult.”

Merit: Goodman Fielder, Vogel’s Gluten Free 

In a tough economic trading environment it takes guts to invest more than $2 million in new manufacturing plant to enter a sector accounting for less than one percent of the total market volume. But while Goodman Fielder arrived at the growing gluten free party a bit late, it made a big splash when it arrived. With a budget of just $130,000 and with significant involvement from the Coeliac Society, Vogel’s Gluten Free secured 53 percent market share by value and grew the gluten free market by 52 percent value, with three of its variants ranked one, two and three in the total gluten free loaf market after just nine months. 

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