Mountain Dew has entered the second phase of introducing its new brand mascot with an in-depth interview, per news made available to Marketing Dive. In a 2:40 docu-short, the fictional Dewey Ryder and NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. sit down to chat with ESPN’s Kenny Mayne, with some contentious results.
Earnhardt, who is retiring from both NASCAR and his partnership with the PepsiCo brand, agreed with Mayne that it’s actually the worst interview he’s participated in. The full clip, which aired around ESPN’s SportsCenter program last week, is available to view on YouTube below.
Mountain Dew introdued Ryder, played by comedian and actor Danny McBride, as its new NASCAR spokesperson late last month via a press release mostly written in a tounge-in-cheek tone by Ryder. While the brand is passing the proverbial torch on, both Ryder and Earnhardt Jr. will continue to appear together in Mountain Dew content through the year’s end and into 2018.
Transitioning to a new brand mascot or ambassador is always a tough move for a company, as the switch can be off-putting to consumers who’ve become accustomed to a particular face representing its product. This is likely doubly true for Mountain Dew, which has worked with Earnhardt for nearly a decade on its NASCAR-related endorsements.
Rather than suddenly swap out Earnhardt for a different professional driver, the soft drink maker appears to be pulling out more creative stops, building a world and persona around Ryder that gels with Moutain Dew’s broader sense of humor and can make the change easier to digest. McBride is an inspired choice to play the character as well given his previous roles as the similarly brash Kenny Powers on HBO’s “Eastbound and Down” and a warped version of himself in the film “This is the End.” McBride here matches those performances with his belligerence and comic lack of awareness.
In the interview, which has a largely improvisational feel — all three of those involved appear to be on the verge of laughing at several points — the forty-ish Ryder claims to be a millennial, which Mayne pushes back against, earning Ryder’s ire and a comparison to Stephen Lang’s villain from the movie “Avatar.” The broader campaign around Ryder, which will extend into next year, also includes social media marketing such as a #DeweyRyder hashtag for NASCAR fans to keep an eye out for.
The popularity of soft drinks is overall on the decline as consumers search out healthier, less sugary alternatives. While Mountain Dew still ranks high as the fourth most popular soda in the U.S., per NBC News, PepsiCo’s other products in its snack category have started to outpace the CPG’s beverage sales.