Mountain Dew: Deathbowl to Downtown

Mountain Dew is the third largest carbonated soft drink brand in America, however, in 2008, Dew and its competitors experienced steep sales declines. Dew’s irreverent position had become less relevant as its edgy, male consumer of the ‘90s had aged. Energy drinks were stealing market share. X-Games and mainstream skateboarding sponsorships didn’t connect with the new breed of “underground” street skaters who disdained logo-heavy promotions. “Deathbowl to Downtown” renewed Dew’s relevance among this elusive young male demographic. The unbranded, full-length documentary re-established Dew as a marketing innovator and demonstrated its “Fuel the Core” positioning in an authentic way.

Directed by Coan (Buddy) Nichols and Rick Charnowski, “Deathbowl to Downtown” documented skateboarding’s evolution from the parks of the ‘70s and ‘80s to the streets of the ‘90s. The sports action film, which took three years to make, reconnected Dew with skater subculture in an uncluttered environment with no product integration or intrusion by the brand.

Nichols and Charnowski hyped “Deathbowl to Downtown” through blogs and a series of trailers that lent credence Dew’s support. A massive New York City premiere drew celebrity skaters and more than 1,000 attendees, including international press. A gigantic sculptural bar made from limited-edition aluminum Dew “art bottles” and Mountain Dew mixed drinks were the only branding on-site. Dew also staged regional screening events, sampled product, hosted after-parties and distributed influencer kits with film screeners and collateral to skate shops to promote the film. A pop-up retail gallery in New York City’s SoHo area featured “Deathbowl to Downtown” memorabilia and photography.

Exclusive “Deathbowl to Downtown” footage on Dew’s website garnered more than 200,000 unique visitors. A sweepstakes for an exclusive skate weekend trip to NYC achieved more than 35,000 unique visitors and 9,000 entries. The documentary sparked hundreds of blog discussions worldwide. In short, it was the film skaters had been waiting for.