“Puppy, monkey, baby.” “Puppy, monkey, baby.”
Mountain Dew wanted to tell the audience about its new beverage, Mtn Dew Kickstart, which is a combination of three things—Dew, juice, and caffeine. Since Mountain Dew already contains caffeine, the new beverage seems like two things combined, but Kickstart has caffeine at the energy drink level, beyond that of ordinary Mountain Dew. To make the point about its combination of three things, Mtn Dew Kickstart has made the star of this ad a creature that is the combination of three awesome things, a puppy, a monkey, and a baby. The rationale for this creepy creature is that it draws attention to the Mtn Dew Kickstart combination and because the ad would debut on the Super Bowl, where ads with puppies, babies, and monkeys have done well in the competition for best-liked Super Bowl ad.
A simple question always useful in marketing is “Why not?” Why would someone buying an energy drink not choose Mtn Dew Kickstart? A prospect might not pick the brand because it just doesn’t come to mind. When thinking about energy drinks, people may automatically think of Red Bull or one of the other popular brands and may buy the brand that pops into their heads. Mental availability, or the tendency to quickly come to mind, is critical in marketing because people use how easily a brand pops into mind is a shortcut to brand evaluation. This ad would help increase the brand’s mental availability. When thinking of energy drinks, this bizarre creature is likely to rear its puppy head whether prospects want it to or not.
But maybe someone buying an energy drink won’t choose Mtn Dew Kickstart because when they think of the brand or happen upon it while shopping, the associations that come with it aren’t that appealing. If the primary reaction inspired by the brand is that head-scratching, somewhat queasy feeling one gets when watching this spot, the increased mental availability may not be all to the good.
If viewers see the puppy, monkey, baby as making fun of advertising conventions, the ad works. If viewers associate the brand with a slightly uncomfortable feeling, the ad doesn’t work. The ad solves one problem by creating another.