SBJ/January 23-29, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

New Dew Crew jumps the pit wall

The Dew Crew is back.

The term, which was used to describe the pit crews working on Darrell Waltrip’s No. 11 Mountain Dew Buick in the 1980s and Casey Atwood’s No. 19 Mountain Dew Dodge in 2001, will be used by Diet Mountain Dew to promote its new role as Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s primary sponsor.

The brand plans to create a virtual hub where Earnhardt fans can become members of the Dew Crew, have access to exclusive No. 88-related content, and vote on potential paint schemes and firesuits featured in coming races. The site will live on Facebook and have its own URL, dewcrew.com.

Diet Mountain Dew, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s new primary sponsor, will sign fans up for the Dew Crew at a new site on Facebook.
“We wanted to expand [the Dew Crew] beyond the pit crew,” said Christie Shan, a sports marketing associate manager at PepsiCo, which owns Diet Mountain Dew. “They’re not the only ones who support Dale. The fans do, too. We wanted to engage them and give them a voice so they could better interact with our brand.”

There will be four events during the year designed to raise interest in the site and drive traffic. Those events are being developed by the Diet Dew brand team.

Shan said Diet Dew will reward fans who participate in the site by giving them limited-edition merchandise. The goal is to have 500,000 Dew Crew members by the end of the year.

“If we can do that, we’ll be pretty happy,” Shan said.

Diet Mountain Dew is replacing Amp Energy as the primary sponsor of Earnhardt for 16 of 20 races owned by PepsiCo. Amp sponsored Earnhardt from 2008 to 2011 in a deal valued at $25 million a year, but it ended its sponsorship after seeing sales level off in recent years.

PepsiCo decided to make Diet Mountain Dew the primary sponsor in hopes of furthering the brand’s position as one of the fastest-growing soft drinks nationwide.

In addition to the Dew Crew promotion, Diet Mountain Dew will run a series of retail promotions in key race markets. It will put up “Chase the Taste” posters in the Daytona market to encourage consumers to buy Diet Dew and join the Dew Crew ahead of the Feb. 26 Daytona 500.

It also plans to put a special, No. 88-branded 18-pack of Diet Dew and Mountain Dew cans at retail outlets in North Carolina and South Carolina.

“The opportunity to grow trademark [original Mountain] Dew is still very much there,” Shan said. “People get really excited about these special race packs, and they’ll be very visible in store.”

The Diet Dew brand team is working with Genesco on its retail activation and TracyLocke on its Dew Crew program.

The PepsiCo contract with Earnhardt ends at the end of this year, and the parties are expected to begin renewal talks soon.

“Those discussions haven’t taken place yet,” Shan said. “We’re operating under the assumption that the programming [around Dew Crew] will hopefully continue beyond this year.”
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