NASCAR drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Chase Elliott are helping Mountain Dew and its caffeine-craving fans drive the soda company’s latest campaign in DEWcision 2016 through a game in virtual reality.

The choose-your-own adventure VR gaming experience puts Mountain Dew’s fans at the wheel of immersion and asks them to choose which of their favorite flavors—Mtn Dew Baja Blast or Mtn Dew Pitch Black—will earn a place on retail shelves after the summer.

“In the past, Mtn Dew Baja Blast and Mtn Dew Pitch Black have only been available as limited-time offerings, and when they go off the shelves, Dew Nation has been very vocal, asking for us to bring them back,” Stinson Parks, Mountain Dew’s digital marketing manager, told [a]listdaily. “With DEWcision 2016, Dew is putting the power in the hands of our fans and giving them a chance to make their voices heard, with a vote that only they can make happen.”


The experience, available on Samsung Gear VR and through YouTube 360, is running parallel to the presidential election, making it a timely one for the soda brand. Mountain Dew also partnered with Shazam to launch their VR player and facilitate the music identification app’s first-ever VR content so that fans can scan a bottle of Baja Blast or Pitch Black Dew with their phone to unlock short-form Dew VR content.

This is the second straight year Dew has tapped Earnhardt Jr. for a VR video. In 2015, the two-time Daytona 500 winner brought viewers to the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee.

“I think VR is the future of video games,” Earnhardt Jr. said, per USA Today. “It puts the fans in a VR environment. We’re right in there with them. They’ll be able to be on the race track with us. It’s going to be a lot of fun . . . It’s a different experience.”

Parks joined [a]listdaily to discuss Mountain Dew’s strategy in immersive experiences.

How does using VR and other immersive experiences best position Mountain Dew’s marketing efforts?

Mountain Dew has always been a cultural instigator, pushing the limits of what’s possible and embracing creativity whether that’s virtual reality, emerging social media campaigns, a new sport in drone racing, or progressing action sports through Dew Tour. It’s in our DNA to push the boundaries of what’s next and emerging technology has been a rewarding space to explore. As a company, we’re always exploring, seeking out, and even creating the next trend or diving into the newest technology. As marketers, we take risks to see great rewards.

How did NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Chase Elliott react to a simulated driving experience?

For this VR experience, Dew used motion capture technology to recreate a more realistic experience so that users feel like they’re really in the car with Dale, Kasey and Chase while wearing a virtual reality headset. This experience blurs the line between video games and marketing, all in VR. Dale and Chase were able to try out the VR experience first-hand at JR Motorsports Fan Day in Moorseville, North Carolina. Dale and Chase had a blast and couldn’t believe how realistic their likenesses were. They got a huge kick out of riding next to their virtual selves.


Mountain Dew also used VR earlier this year at the 2016 NBA All-Star Game through the “Court Vision” installation. How is Mountain Dew leveraging new technologies?

The brand actually first started testing virtual reality content in early 2014 and since has produced three live action VR experiences that immerse fans in what they love most: Dew and action sports. This includes Dew VR Skate, Dew VR Snow and Dew VR Bristol—with the central theme focusing on access to adventures and experiences that might not otherwise be possible without future-forward technology. The DEWcision VR experience is the first time Dew is using VR as a content channel as part of a larger, integrated 360-degree campaign.

Brands are jumping on the VR and 360-video train daily. What is Mountain Dew’s strategy in this space? And how will you measure overall success?

Mountain Dew is excited to continue to delve into VR as an opportunity. We have plenty of other verticals within sports and lifestyle, and several other key partners and Dew talent that we can tap into and explore to bring more VR opportunities to life in the future. The possibilities are endless—Dew fans love sports, music, gaming, technology—and we’re excited to create more.

We know this field will continue to grow and Dew will continue to keep an eye on VR as our technology and software partners continue to evolve and launch new and exciting platforms for us to use to bring VR to Dew Nation.

We’ve seen great results with Dew VR and continue to find ways to scale the content for those outside of events, and for those without VR headsets. The experiences have debuted at top events such as Dew Tour, the U.S. Open of Snowboarding, and the Bristol Motor Speedway night race, giving thousands of fans onsite at each event the opportunity to experience Dew VR. Beyond on-site events, Dew VR experiences are showcased on every Samsung Gear VR headset on display at Best Buy. When Dew VR Snow launched, the content was trending on the Samsung Milk VR app as the most popular action sports VR experience. And, we were one of the first brands to upload VR content to Facebook 360.


We believe that we’ll continue to see more and more consumers engaging with virtual reality and the introduction of new equipment and opportunities that will make the immersive experiences accessible for the masses. We continue to see the technology evolve, and will measure our success based on how well we can engage our target consumers.

For DEWcision specifically, we tied the VR experience directly back to the key metrics of driving awareness for the overall campaign and ultimately votes for your favorite flavor, which is what the campaign is all about.

How is Mountain Dew using social media, content and other storytelling tools to engage in new ways with consumers?

Being a digital instigator on new platforms is something we always try to do and is very much a part of who we are as a brand. When using new features and jumping on technologies, we want to experiment and introduce new things to our fan group in a memorable, engaging way. We also want to tell our brand stories on the platforms and spaces where our consumers are. As that evolves ever more rapidly, so will we.

Mountain Dew was one of the first brands to activate on Periscope, Twitter Autoplay, the Instagram portrait-landscape format, create breakthrough content on Snapchat during this year’s Super Bowl, and was one of the first brands to use the Snapchat Lenses feature.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan