Digital & Social Media

A Message From the Board

A Message From the Board
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Campaign: Soft drink brand Mountain Dew has created a skateboard deck that reveals a hidden message as the skater grinds away the board’s underside.

In a project developed with Finch, Sydney and Colenso BBDO (Auckland), the brand created Hidden Graphics, a skateboard where more artwork gets revealed with each trick that the owner pulls off. The board initially appears to have no design, but under a rub-resistant layer of paint (designed to chip away over time) is the brand’s tagline: To get to easy, you’ve got to get through hard. The image is laser etched into the wood, and filled with coloured resin. It can only be revealed once the board has been used.

The brand announced the invention of the deck on Facebook, with a short documentary featuring ex-pro skater, Chris Wood. Fans of the brand could try and win one of 10 limited edition Hidden Graphics boards by sending in photos and videos of their own scratched up skateboards, and posting them to the Mountain Dew New Zealand Facebook page alongside the hashtag, #MountainDewEasyisHard. The 10 winners went on to be sponsored by Mountain Dew.

Contagious, FleishmanHillard’s Feinn Weigh In

Contagious: Brands often face difficulty populating their owned media channels with relevant content. Mountain Dew’s long-standing commitment to the extreme sports community via sponsorship, events and product innovations means that this is not a problem for the brand. Extreme sports videos can generate millions of views on YouTube, and Mountain Dew is perfectly positioned to carve off a slice of that pie. But it’s great to see the brand has gone a step further than merely putting some cool tricks up on its page by actually investing in the community and creating something innovative (the deck) that people will genuinely want to own.

This product will most probably resonate with all skaters who are driven to repeatedly practice their moves over and over until they’ve nailed it. The gratification of having that dedication represented visually seems like a badge of honor. This execution demonstrates the brand’s understanding of who it is speaking to. Developing Hidden Graphics helps to cement Mountain Dew as a core part of the skating community, rather than a passive backer.

George Feinn: Connecting with an audience outside their comfort zone is never easy. But that’s exactly the point of Mountain Dew’s Hidden Graphics project. After all, they’re targeting a crowd that craves pushing their own limits. And what true skateboarding do-the-dew-er can resist a deck that not only begs to get beaten up, but invites viewers the chance to get one of their own and join the bruising ride?

Never one to stop daring their audience, Mountain Dew delivers evidence that it’s worth calming down for three minutes and 20 seconds to watch a predictably slick-looking skateboarding video. In it, former professional Chris Wood demonstrates how each new board he christens is a toy he can’t wait to destroy (good thing he didn’t become a violinist.) As Wood puts it, “It’s not only like that ledge represents a little bit of creativity, it represents a bit of fun.” Indeed it does.

Asking fans on Facebook to post their own photos and videos for a chance to win one of the limited edition boards is hardly breakthrough, but the brand’s message comes through loud and clear here. And it’s refreshingly simple; an ostensibly mundane-looking skateboard that changes in appearance the more you ride it. What’s not to love?

Ultimately, all the abuse reveals little more than a nicely designed tagline: To get to easy you have to go through hard. Not bad, but I couldn’t help but wonder if allowing contestants to create their own hidden design would have made it more interesting. Still, it’s a far more rewarding marketing message than Ralphie from “A Christmas Story” being reminded to drink his Ovaltine.

In the end, the Hidden Graphics project isn’t just fun, it’s a great reflection of the Mountain Dew brand. Or, as Chris Wood so eloquently puts it in the video, “It’s rad.”

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About the author

This article was syndicated from Contagious Feed, an indispensable resource to the marketing communications industry focusing on competitive intelligence, best practices, new technology and consumer behavior. In addition to the flagship quarterly publication, app and Feed, Contagious has developed a consultancy and a series of world-class conferences, including its annual Most Contagious event.

George Feinn is a New York-based member of FleishmanHillard's brand marketing team. During his two-plus decades in advertising, he's worked on everything from branding to digital to direct response – across all media, including TV, radio, print and online.