Pepsi has chosen TBWAChiatDay New York as lead creative agency for the Mountain Dew brand following a closed, Omnicom-only review.
“We enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with BBDO New York and are grateful for the partnership,” Mountain Dew vice president of marketing Nicole Portwood said in a statement confirming the switch. “We’re excited about our new chapter with TBWAChiatDay New York and look forward to continuing our longstanding partnership with Omnicom.”
According to parties with knowledge of the matter, longtime incumbent BBDO pitched for the business, as did Goodby Silverstein & Partners. The Omnicom shops purportedly presented concepts for the brand to a PepsiCo team earlier this year.
Representatives for TBWA, BBDO, GS&P and Omnicom deferred to the client for comment.
While PepsiCo works with a range of agencies around the world (VaynerMedia created this summer’s Instagram-heavy Pepsi campaign), the company has a unique six-decade relationship with Omnicom. In 2001, leadership opted to consolidate media and creative with the holding company after IPG acquired former Pepsi agency of record FCB, creating a conflict of interest due to its existing relationship with archrival Coca-Cola. The model evolved further in 2013, with Omnicom launching a team called Galaxy that consisted of executives who selected shops to work on assorted PepsiCo brands; BBDO and TBWA had collaborated on Pepsi’s first global campaign the previous year.
PepsiCo acquired Mountain Dew in 1963 and quickly hired Ogilvy to work on the brand; the WPP network’s debut campaign starred a “hillbilly” named Willie and ran with the tagline “Yahoo! Mountain Dew!,” effectively equating the drink with homemade whiskey. (The phrase “mountain dew” itself is slang for moonshine.)
BBDO first won the business in 1973, and its early campaigns continued to tie the brand to rural life while gradually moving toward outdoor activities and, in the 1980s, catering to suburban teens with “Country Cool,” a series of spots featuring young people performing tricks on skateboards and bikes. But Pepsi executives saw a chance for the brand to grow, and its true breakthrough came in 1992 with the debut of “Do Diet Dew,” a campaign developed by junior copywriter Bill Bruce. The first ad in the series featured extreme sports scenes such as characters skiing on an active volcano, skydiving while riding a bicycle and kayaking in a canyon.
That line evolved into “Do the Dew,” and Bruce eventually became BBDO New York’s chief creative officer.
The agency’s more recent work includes “Puppy Monkey Baby,” 2016’s infamous crowdsourced Super Bowl spot promoting the Mountain Dew Kickstart energy drink, and “DEWnited States Collection,” a project featuring individual packaging for each of the 50 United States.
In another example of PepsiCo’s unique relationship with Omnicom, Dorito’s agency of record Goodby, Silverstein & Partners created the 2018 Super Bowl ad for Mountain Dew, which starred Morgan Freeman and Peter Dinklage and simultaneously promoted the Dorito’s brand. A source with knowledge of the matter explained that the Super Bowl ad was a “jump ball” project assignment.
The news regarding Mountain Dew follows another account transfer within the Omnicom network just last week when the University of Phoenix sent its creative business from 180LA to TBWAChiatDay Los Angeles and RAPP without a formal review.
According to Kantar Media, PepsiCo spent $119.5 million on paid media promoting the Mountain Dew family of brands in 2018. That total marked a striking 34% increase over the previous year’s budget. According to Kantar Media, the brand spent nearly $34 million in the first quarter of 2019, up from just under $30 million over that timeframe last year.