Evolving From Cornhole to Extreme Sports

UnknownDon’t get so cocky, Red Bull! Mountain Dew always has and always will be chomping at your heels.

PepsiCo’s citrus-flavored soft drink is more than just a beverage. The current slogan of “Do the Dew” emphasizes it is a lifestyle brand that’s been strongly connected to niche markets for more than 20 years.

The brand began in the hills of East Tennessee in the 1940s. In 1993, Mountain Dew began getting a feel for extreme activities, like skydiving and mountain biking.

Jason Belzer wrote in a Forbes article that the brand has focused its sports marketing and sponsorship strategy on just one goal: being synonymous with the extreme.

Just like eating crackerjacks reminds us of baseball, drinking Mountain Dew triggers an association with action sports (fast, exciting, extreme).”

The bridge between rural consumers and young, active consumers was cemented by signing a sponsorship deal during the original X Games in 1995. In 2002, Mountain Dew started the Free Flow Tour, an amateur skateboarding competition. The Dew Action Sports Tour with NBC Sports began in 2005.

Now, the average consumer isn’t going to want to immediately go snowboarding after drinking Mountain Dew, but as Belzer states:

Having a deeply rooted association with pleasant and enjoyable feelings is an incredibly powerful tool that helps drive consumer behavior.”

Mountain Dew is building and strengthening relationships with buyers before and after competitions with movies, music, and online content.

MD Films released First Descent in 2005. The documentary, centered on the rise of snowboarding, was the first motion picture produced by a soft drink company.

The brand released “A Mini Mini-Series” in August 2014. According to the show’s YouTube page, users can watch all eight episodes in just two minutes.

Green Label is the company’s online magazine “featuring the latest stories and emerging trends in skate, music, art, gaming, and more.” Green Label Sound is a record label for emerging artists, which recently launched the Green Label Station on iTunes Radio. Mountain Dew is even sponsoring the “Anything Goes Tour” for the country duo sensation Florida Georgia Line.

The brand is effective in communicating through social media. Instead of buying airtime for a 30-second Super Bowl commercial, the company ran a spot for its new Kickstart line during the pre-game show and then continued the conversation with more than 10 million combined followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Beverage Digest reports Mountain Dew was the third most popular refreshment brand in 2014, and about 20 percent of its consumers are responsible for 70 percent of its volume. As Denise Lee Yohn, a marketing consultant, told the Huffington Post in January:

By focusing on a ‘cult, loyal following,’ Mountain Dew may be better poised than other sodas to survive the health and wellness obsession that has swept the country in recent years.”

Mountain Dew is highly successful in leveraging their sponsorship across brand communications. These niche markets appreciate the attention and are willing to reward the company by opening their wallets.

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Content: The Team’s Biggest Challenge

A nail-biting finish for the University of Tennessee against South Carolina on Saturday. The Vols beat the Gamecocks 45-42 in overtime, clinching their first SEC victory of the season. Although the game was difficult, the team’s biggest challenge happens every day off the field.

Organizations must find ways to keep fans engaged. When a team provides content, it generates attention and fan-interest.

A recent Forbes magazine article highlighted Heineken‘s effort to put an umpire chair in the middle of Union Square. The company had volunteers, wanting to win tickets to the U.S. Open, sit and try to quiet passersby.

Brands such as Heineken can no longer rely on just commissioning stale 30-second promotional ads. They have to stand out by producing memorable experiences—both online and offline—that generate emotional connections and help turn viewers into fans.”

Vettel_Bahrain_2010_(cropped)Red Bull is more than just an energy drink. The Austrian company invests a lot of money in extreme sports, like motocross, snowboarding, and cliff-diving. As one blogger wrote, establishing the brand in sport has been the key to success:

There was a clear niche that they could see in action sports that would tie in with their motto: “Red Bull gives you wings”. The real secret to their domination is that Red Bull haven’t just advertised in this market, they have become involved.”

The company sponsors several athletes and hosts multiple sporting events around the world each year. The brand is plastered everywhere: uniforms, equipment, naming rights, publications, pictures, videos, transportation, etc. Another blogger stated Red Bull is great at producing content because it owns and controls distribution channels:

Red Bull’s content success is largely due to staying ahead of the industry—where and how consumers are viewing content—keeping it relevant, and creatively blurring the lines between advertising and content.”

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 9.54.40 AMTennessee Athletics is great at sending out content via social media. When the team is preparing for its next game, pictures are posted on the @Vol_Football Instagram account counting down the number of hours until kickoff. At the end of each quarter, pictures with the score are posted. When it’s a player’s birthday, a picture of them is posted to recognize their special day.

The initiative is highly effective because even the casual fan feels connected and stays informed by simply following the team on social media. When they “Like,” “Retweet,” or “Share” a post, it shows up in their friends’ timeline and grows the audience.


DIRECTV
released a new advertisement over the summer, but it never aired on television. The video of Peyton and Eli Manning rapping about Fantasy Football is a viral hit with more than 3.8 million YouTube views. The brothers also did a video in 2013, which has 8.5 million views.

Brands need to continue to find innovative ways to create content that is eye-catching and entertaining. Earned media is more powerful and cheaper than paid media.

Content Pays Off

If a brand doesn’t have a strong presence on the web, it simply doesn’t exist. Whether it’s shopping, researching, or communicating, we’re obsessed with spending endless hours online.

Dancing_With_the_Stars_(2012)_-_Samba_performed_by_Rati_TsiteladzeHave you seen the end of a McDonald’s commercial? Not only does the fast food restaurant include a link to its website, but it displays icons informing consumers they can connect on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Have you watched “Dancing with the Stars” on ABC? #DWTS is in the upper right corner during the entire show. Viewers can also go online and get a behind-the-scenes look of the live event.

A well-developed online strategy is more successful than basic advertising because it generates content: articles, blogs, forum messages, videos, and social media posts. As Nick Burcher explained in “Paid, Owned, Earned:”

Search engines match users with specific information, and developing content in line with search behavior can deliver a ‘free’ audience, reducing the need to use paid media to create attention.”

When brands produce content, it increases the chances it is going to be seen by a wider audience. Burcher shared this excerpt from Malcolm Coles’ Online Journalism Blog:

If you want to do well in Google for relevant searches, publish early, publish often, and put your keywords at the front.”

The hit ABC show “Scandal” is a force to be reckon with on Thursday nights on Twitter. #Scandal is consistently one of the top DVD_cover,_Scandal_season_4,_September_2014trending topics, making the show one that no one wants to DVR. Adweek stated the premiere in September inspired 718,000 tweets that reached 4.16 million accounts. As the L.A. Times noted, the show is a new-media phenomenon:

Without Twitter to boost its profile and then its ratings, “Scandal” probably would have been canceled. Instead, it’s held up as an example of social media prowess by networks and branding experts of every stripe, and its success further stokes the belief that somehow Twitter can save us all.”

Look at what GQ Magazine is up to these days. The men’s fashion publication is making it easier for readers to “Get the GQ Look.” The editors select items from the pages each month and make them available on a special section of their website.


Don’t forget about Jimmy Fallon! The host of NBC’s Tonight Show is a content-sharing genius. He often encourages his celebrity guests to take part in entertaining skits, like a lip sync battle with Emma Stone. After the show, the segment is uploaded to YouTube. The video currently has more than 34.2 million views. These viral videos are helping Fallon boost his ratings each night for FREE.

In case you haven’t realized, content pays off. Earned media carries more power than any other format.