Mountain Dew Amps Up Country Strategy With CMT, Talks Future Of Hip-Hop Strategy

Jason Aldean in a scene from his Mountain Dew "How I Dew" video.

Mountain Dew has long had a history in the Heartland of America – the regions of the Midwest, Southwest and Southeast where nearly 80% of the brand’s volume comes from. But only recently has the soda giant started to incorporate the music of the Heartland – country – into its advertising.

Following endorsement deals with Jason Aldean in 2012 and Brantley Gilbert earlier this year, Mountain Dew has introduced a new platform called “Concrete Country” in partnership with CMT. Since originating as a digital series for CMT.com in 2012, “Concrete Country” will expand to a series of 10-minute specials in July featuring up-and-coming country acts performing on iconic streets around the country. Featured artists will include Brian Davis, Stoney LaRue, Casey Donahew Band, The Dirty River Boys, Nikki Lane, The Black Lillies, Turnpike Troubadours and Whiskey Myers.

“Dew’s had a long-standing heritage in country music and also supporting emerging artists for quite some time,” says Todd Kaplan, Mountain Dew’s director of brand marketing. “We thought CMT was a great partner who shared a common support for singers and songwriters who make music on their own terms. Both of our efforts can raise visibility for some of the most exciting artists in the nation.”

Mountain Dew- Jason Aldean- How I Dew

Mountain Dew is one of the music industry’s most innovative brand partners when it comes to creating sustainable partnerships with artists. Its Green Label Sound imprint has helped rising acts like The Cool Kids, Chromeo, Matt & Kim, Neon Indian and MNDR issue new music exclusively before distribution from a traditional record label, and the brand has also extended its relationship with GLS acts like Holy Ghost! and Mac Miller into full-fleged tours in recent years.

More recently, of course, Dew has made headlines for the artist partnerships it’s interrupted – first, a series of commercials directed by Tyler, The Creator, and later that same week in May, a multi-year deal with Lil Wayne. Prior to the controversy with the latter over Wayne's lyrics in Future's "Karate Chop (Remix)," Dew experienced volume sales growth 0.6% in 2012, outperforming the soft drink category at large, which was down 1.2% overall, according to Beverage Digest.

Kaplan, who joined Dew in February after spending years in PepsiCo’s sports marketing division, says Dew remains “genre agnostic” in its support of artists and may still include other hip-hop acts in future activations later this year. Rapper Joey Bada$$, for example, released a single through Green Label Sound in January, and hip-hop factors in heavily to a micro-site created in partnership with Complex Media Group in late April. And Dew remains supportive of Mac Miller, who featured heavily into Dew marketing initiatives in 2011 and 2012.

In the meantime, look for Gilbert to appear in a just-shot commercial for Dew later this summer, as well as at least two of the artists from “Concrete Country” to sign deals with Green Label Sound. “We want to help promote their singles and albums so that they can embark on the journey of getting to that next level as artists,” Kaplan says.