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BEYOND RELEVANCE MUSINGS ON CHURCH, STRATEGY, AND CULTURE

BY RICHARD REISING

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Oct 23

The Mountain Dew Mandate

Oct 23
Oct 23

The other day I saw someone drinking a Mountain Dew. My initial thought was “people still drink that stuff??” Then my mind wandered to Mountain Dew’s prime time. Does anyone remember how Mountain Dew completely dominated the extreme sports craze? This started in the late eighties and nineties. Mountain Dew sponsored pretty much every skate park tournament that was out there. If something “extreme” was happening, they were totally involved. Their promotional advertising was all about the “Been there! Done that!” theme. They basically created the “wild man slacker” culture that so defined the mid to late nineties. It was extremely successful for them.

The most fascinating part about it is how they created their connection with that generation. The Mountain Dew brand was purchased in the mid-60s from Pepsico and their sales were low for several decades. However, their marketing research process for their huge launch in the 80s was phenomenal—it created the foundation for their brand.

Mountain Dew plunged into the minds of a generation by lingering with the masses. They basically hired a group of college-age kids to put on Mountain Dew gear and go to some local high school campuses in black Hummers decked out Mountain Dew style. These were their tasks:
1.    locate the popular, trendsetting teens
2.    give them free stuff and ask them to hang out at the Hummer
3.    take as many notes as they could on everything they said, did and wore.

The end result: learn what the coolest kids in school thought was cool—what was the new cool thing. What Mountain Dew did was amazing—they observed teens in an anthropological way. They paid close attention to the kids who were early adopters—cutting-edge leaders and trendsetters. Those influencers were the ones who always seemed to be ahead in hairstyles and clothing choices—introducing them before they became the popular thing to wear. The cool teenagers at the time had one thing in common that Mountain Dew milked for all it was worth: a respect for the lack of fear.

When you reach the leaders, you reach the followers. Who are you studying? How can you dedicate more of your time to learning what drives people? How can you convert that to influencing others for Christ?

It's time to mingle with the masses. We can't keep our light hidden. It's a mandate.

© Richard L. Reising

2 comments

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thomas

so i'm going to agree with the post and disagree with TOTC a bit. I agree that you speak the Truth to kids, but you also have to consider their culture, which is why understanding them from an anthropological standpoint is important. Look at Paul when he speaks at Mars Hill. Everything he said to them was Truth, but soaked in an understanding of their culture.

You can't ignore the world they live in when you teach to them. You have to be able to relate to them, or they'll quit listening to you.

If you want to see more about how the marketing machine works, check out frontline's program "the merchants of cool." here's a weblink to it: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool/view/

the time frame of merchants of cool is already very dated, but the concepts hold true across the time/trend changes.

Posted on Mon, Nov 10, 2008 @ 1:17 PM CST

Linus

Thanks for this post and the comments - good stuff all.

so i'm lookin for the tension between these two points of view. Jesus is not a product, he's a person of deepest compassion. He has never been any respecter of status.

Yes meet the people where they're at, shine a light that illuminates rather than blinds, but don't just go after the cool kids - have you never read the Apostle James' letter? Don't pander to the rich. Invite the losers who don't know how to play the game and the disillusioned who refuse to. Don't let your actions contradict your message by valuing some people more than others. When those who can't or won't follow turn out to have found something deeper than the "leaders" possess no matter how hard they try to make it seem effortless, well then you've truly got a revolution on your hands - then you're bucking the trend, not following it.

Thanks. peace.

Posted on Mon, Nov 10, 2008 @ 2:28 PM CST

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