PepsiCo positions Amp as everyman’s drink, launches Earnhardt campaign

PURCHASE, N.Y. PepsiCo on Monday began a massive ad campaign for Mountain Dew Amp Energy to position the energy drink of the masses. The campaign will feature ads starring Dale Earnhardt Jr., three new flavors, a high-profile summer promotion and slew of packaging variations will aim to spur sales of the No. 5 energy drink.

The company is betting that Amp, which saw sales double in 2007, will become the choice of men ages 18 to 34. “Amp is about bringing your ‘A’ game whether it is going 200 miles per hour on the race track or going to your meeting,” said Maurice Herrera, Amp’s marketing director.

Amp has plenty of competition in the high-margin $5 billion energy category, which was up 35 percent for the first nine months of 2007, according to Beverage Digest. No. 2 Red Bull last week announced it would make its 16.9-ounce can a permanent offering and a sugar-free version will debut this quarter. Monster is No.1 with 27 percent of the category. New competitor All City NRG from AriZona is on the horizon, with the company testing the 16-ounce non-carbonated drink in select markets.

The poster child for this new attitude is Earnhardt, who signed a sponsorship deal with Amp and the National Guard for a reported $25 million per year. At retail, the Dale Jr. Collector series of 12-ounce sleek cans will be available from May through July. The beverage also will sponsor the Amp Energy 500 at Talladega on Oct. 5.

In three months, Amp will launch three new line extensions: Amp Relaunch will better hydrate consumers with an added mix of electrolytes and B vitamins. Amp Elevate can help boost drinkers’ mental capacity with L-Theanine. Amp Traction will present as a sustained energy option.

Pepsi spent $10.2 million on media for Amp for the first 11 months of 2007, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. This year, “we’re going to play big,” said Herrera. “Amp will get a tremendous amount of focus.”

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