Site Goes Dark for Mountain Dew Pitch Black II

A goofy redheaded guy outfits his house with Webcams to record 90 days of living in total darkness. It may sound like the latest reality show, but it’s actually a new Web marketing effort launched this week by PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew and Tribal DDB.

The campaign centers around a video- and audio-heavy site dedicated to the adventures of “Cliff.” Pitchblackexperiment.com tells the story of how the gangly character draped his house in blackout fabric and is living in total darkness — as a tribute to the seasonal Mountain Dew Pitch Black II sour grape soda. Users can listen to Cliff fumble around in the dark, and, with a few clicks of their mice, help the character find items in various rooms.

Tribal DDB Dallas creative director Scott Johnson says its inspiration came from Web sites created by fans of the Mountain Dew brand.

“We do see people who care enough about this Mountain Dew brand that they’re taking time to create their own fan sites,” said Johnson. “We decided we were going to create the fan site that takes it to the next level.”

Johnson said the broadband-oriented site aims to entertain the product’s target audience, which mostly consists of young males.

“In many ways, we are in the entertainment business. We’re trying to do something that will make people smile and engage with the brand,” he said. “That’s something that too few people understand in the online media. Once they’ve decided to come to your site, stop beating them over the head and trying to sell them something.”

Tribal and Pepsi will measure the branding effect of the site. They’ll also monitor the forward-to-a-friend feature and work to build the company’s email database via an upcoming sweepstakes. A Web media campaign, details of which weren’t immediately available from Tribal DDB executives, will drive traffic to the Web site.

The brand’s launch will also be supported by point-of-purchase displays created by TracyLocke, Pepsi’s promotional marketing partner.

Mountain Dew Pitch Black was launched for the first time last year in conjunction with Halloween. This year, the company wanted to widen its appeal by avoiding “spooky” marketing associations. The company also tweaked the flavor for the brand’s return, saying sour flavors are currently “big” with teens and young adults.

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