SBJ/January 7-13, 2013/Events and Attractions

Fewer equals better for Dew Tour

The 2012 Dew Tour had four fewer events. It drew 135,000 fewer fans. And its TV audience on NBC was the smallest in its eight-year history.

But for NBC’s Alli Sports, which runs the tour; Mountain Dew, which spends $8 million a year to title sponsor it; and a half-dozen other sponsors, the three-stop tour exceeded expectations and achieved the goal of fewer, bigger and better events. Highlights included the introduction of new disciplines, record video streams, major upticks in unique visitors to AlliSports.com, more athlete participation, and the most cohesive and interactive sponsor village in Dew Tour history.

“It’s one of those calculated risks we took from a marketing standpoint, and we really felt like we pulled it off,” said Adam Harter, PepsiCo vice president, consumer engagement. “It started in Ocean City [Md.] where we broke the all-time attendance record. We saw a 215 percent increase in views across DewTour.com, AlliSports.com and YouTube. We think it’s proving out that fewer, bigger, better events is the way to go.”

Dew Tour general manager Kenny Mitchell said, “There are a lot of things we can continue to evolve and improve, but in terms of our goal of putting together bigger, better and more exciting events, we feel like we did that.”

Alli Sports and Mountain Dew reduced the number of events for the 2012 Dew Tour from seven to three competitions because it felt that the number of action sports events offered by competitors had risen in recent years. That pulled athletes to other events and created a busy calendar where it was difficult for each Dew Tour competition to stand out. By shrinking the number of events, the Dew Tour hoped to attract athletes who skipped events in years past and free up money to build better venues and create new disciplines.

The tour traded four summer events and three winter events for stops in a beach town (Ocean City), a city (San Francisco) and a mountain resort (Breckenridge, Colo.).

It attracted a host of athletes who skipped competition in prior years. In skate, David Gonzalez, Nyjah Huston, Torey Pudwill and Brandon Westgate all turned out for the street skate competition. In BMX, Dakota Roche, Bruno Hoffmann and Matthias Dandois competed.

The tour also created two new events. In San Francisco, it built a downhill skate course with a series of urban obstacles and hosted the first streetstyle competition. It took the same event to Breckenridge and had snowboarders test their skills on a course that featured a wall to ride and a jump over a Nike-branded van.

Total attendance, which topped 184,000, exceeded the goal Alli Sports set for the first, three-event tour. Though it was less than the 320,700 spectators the tour attracted to seven events in 2011, average attendance increased 33 percent to 61,300.

Fans found an event that looked radically different from prior years. Alli Sports built dozens of activation booths that stood more than 35 feet tall and stretched more than 45 feet wide. The booths were fronted by wooden planks and topped by a white roof that was visible several blocks away, and sponsors welcomed the change.

“It was really a step up for them image-wise,” said Julie Solwold, vice president, global sports and events at Paul Mitchell, a Dew Tour sponsor. “The look makes you look better as a sponsor.”

On TV, the tour averaged 559,000 viewers for six broadcasts on NBC, a 29 percent decrease from the 789,000 viewers it averaged over eight telecasts in 2011. It averaged 38,000 viewers over 12 broadcasts on NBC Sports Network. Those viewership totals were complemented by 50 hours of live streaming that helped Dew Tour digital content increase more than 200 percent to more than 7.9 millions views across DewTour.com, AlliSports.com and Dew Tour’s YouTube page.

Giovanni Tomaselli, CEO of first-time sponsor Ion Worldwide, credited the digital increases with helping boost his company’s Facebook and Twitter engagement and product sales.

“We saw a surge [in sales] beyond our expectation that was a direct reflection of what we did at Breckenridge,” Tomaselli said. “We were at least 30 percent higher than what I thought we would do.”

Alli Sports has two key sponsors up for renewal after the season. Both Toyota and Pantech are in negotiations with the tour. Jim Baudino, Toyota’s engagement marketing manager, said the company is evaluating the 2012 season and expects to make a decision soon.

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