Mtn Dew takes aim at tired advertising tropes with ‘Always Sunny’ star

Linda J. Dodson

Dive Brief:

  • Mtn Dew has enlisted actor Charlie Day for a year-long campaign that tears down tired advertising tropes, according to a news release.
  • The campaign commences with a slate of 10 ads showcasing Mtn Dew’s beverage portfolio and the “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star’s live-wire humor, including a 30-second spot with deliberately excessive product placement. It features a guest appearance by NBA All-Star Zach LaVine, a participant in Mtn Dew’s 3-Point Contest, as well as the return of Puppy Monkey Baby, a chimeric creature that stirred controversy at the Super Bowl six years ago.
  • The campaign rollout is timed for the 2022 NBA All-Star event that kicks off this weekend, where Mtn Dew serves as the official soft drink sponsor of the league. Messages will air online and social media as the marketer applies humor to cut through an advertising market executives said is “more crowded than ever before,” per the release.

Dive Insight:

Mtn Dew is playing up an irreverent position by tapping into the comedic prowess of Charlie Day, an actor best known for portraying demented bar janitor Charlie Kelly on the pitch-black “Always Sunny” sitcom. In the release, the soft drink marketer referred to itself as the “original instigator brand,” aligning its outlook with the actor’s persona.

The PepsiCo label’s new campaign, in turn, applies a heavy dose of self-referentialism and satire, ribbing tactics like product placement, which are still an important part of its consumer outreach strategy for events like the NBA All-Star weekend. The effort, developed with agency TBWA/Chiat/Day New York, is also set to run for a year, offering a potential preview of how Mtn Dew could promote upcoming launches like a Hard Seltzer produced with Boston Beer Company that’s expected to hit shelves in early 2022.

Each of the ads in the initial batch tackles a different industry trope or trend while showcasing soft drinks such as the original Mtn Dew, Mtn Dew Zero Sugar and Diet Mtn Dew. One 15-second video starts with Day stating, “Ads are getting shorter and shorter” before being abruptly cut off by a product plug and then scrambling to finish his thoughts and get in a sip of the soda. Another depicts a homey setting where two children eagerly await a serving of a special raspberry lemonade recipe from their “pop-pop.” They are terrified and flee when it’s revealed pop-pop is Day in disguise hawking Mtn Dew Spark.

Mtn Dew has also resurrected Puppy Monkey Baby for a cameo. The bizarre creation, which has the face of a pug, the body of a monkey and the legs of a toddler, led to one of the most talked-about, befuddling ads at Super Bowl 50 in 2016. Bringing back the idea now could be Mtn Dew replaying the hits or a swipe at other marketers resurfacing old chestnuts in bids at fresh relevance. E-Trade, for example, brought back the E-Trade baby — another oddball piece of creative enshrined in popular media by the Super Bowl — for the big game this year after putting the infant character on the sidelines since 2014.

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