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MTV Digital Team Lifts Sun Drop Out of Obscurity

  |  March 28, 2011   |  Comments

Millennials help 62-year-old soda brand go viral on YouTube and Facebook.

sundrop4Sun Drop has basked in a refreshing splash of viral attention since launching the first national campaign in the little-known soda brand's 62-year history. Owned by Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, the brand partnered with MTV's millennials marketing division, MTV Scratch, to create a three-month multimedia effort that began on March 9 with a Twitter "Promoted Trend" ad buy.

Since then, a :30 TV spot (see video below) has appeared on MTV's family of channels: Comedy Central, BET, ABC Family, and Cartoon Network. Ross Martin, EVP of MTV Scratch, told ClickZ the commercial has totaled 2.5 million YouTube views in the last two weeks. He said 300 spoof versions of the spot have been created and uploaded by consumers on YouTube. No video contest has been run to inspire the efforts.

"Some spoof versions of our commercial have been watched 30,000 or 40,000 times," Martin said. "Now we are just starting to look for ways to incorporate that response into the campaign itself."

Sun Drop's Facebook page was launched one month ago, he said, and now has 158,000 "likes." Martin said that no Facebook ads have been purchased to bolster that number. And, several other pages started by fans on the social site have been popping up. In one example, a page titled "SUN DROP commercial (drop it like its hot!)" was launched on March 17 and has drawn more than 9,200 "likes."

MTV Scratch's social media team has been managing Sun Drop's Facebook and Twitter presences. An administrator posts a handful of messages per day on each social site. For Twitter, the brand has attracted 3,400 followers to an account that's only a few weeks old.

"We are watching this blow up in front of our eyes and are trying to keep up with it," Martin said. "What's really happening is that 'super fans' are taking over."

So what's the history behind the obscure Sun Drop? While the citrus soda has been a favorite among consumers in the Carolinas and Tennessee since 1949, it has remained a regional product. Recognizing the passionate fan base it had, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group decided in late 2010 to take it national.

During the first two months of this year, the Plano, TX-based beverages company and MTV Scratch marketed Sun Drop to bottlers, distributors, and retailers around the country. "We're in 48 states now and have 98 percent market penetration," Martin said.

sundrop22With product distribution accomplished, his team began to roll out iniatives like the Twitter "Promoted Trend." With the hash-tag "#howudropit", the effort (see image) pitched the chance to win a trip for two to Las Vegas by signing up on a landing page on MTV.com. The contest runs through June 1 and highlights MTV's "Real World: Las Vegas" reality show. The winner will stay at the "Real World Suite" at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Sin City.

Robert Stone, director of interactive for Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, spoke about creating social media buzz for Sun Drop around the MTV show. "The Twitter campaign is one component of a larger media strategy that reaches our millennial target audience to increase awareness and inspire trial of Sun Drop," he said. "The program was designed to amplify the social media activity regarding the brand and our integration with 'The Real World.'"

Also, Martin said banner and skyscraper ads are running to push the Las Vegas contest. "The majority of the digital media is running on MTV Networks platforms," he said. "Other ads are being strategically and surgically placed around the web."

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Christopher Heine

Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.

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