As mainstream brands involved in action sports go, not many can boast the legacy and longevity of Mountain Dew. It began sponsoring events, athletes, and films in 1996, produced full length films like 2005's First Descent and 2015's We Are Blood, as well as hosted competitions under the Dew Tour umbrella.
But over the last few years, as more and more brands have become involved in the lifestyle, culture, and consumerism of skateboarding, snowboarding, and surfing, the challenge to remain relevant to that audience has increased significantly. To paraphrase the Olympic motto, it's all about going higher, faster, gnarlier. Which brings us to SuperSnake, a hybrid skate and snowboard course that the brand came up with, and turned the entire process of its design, build, and being enjoyed by the brand's sponsored team of skaters and snowboarders, into a 22-minute short film that aired on ABC’s World of X series on Sunday.
Dew's senior director Ryan Collis says this project ties directly into the brand's overall content strategy. "What we're constantly trying to do as a brand, and in action sports specifically, is to push boundaries of what's possible under the pillars of creativity and originality," says Collis. "When you look at action sports, and obviously there is a wide variety of communities under that umbrella, what we wanted to do is bring the ideas of snowboarding and skateboarding together, and we knew it had never been done before, to deliver amazing content that both communities—skaters and snowboarders—could get really excited about."
What really makes not only SuperSnake work, but every aspect of its action sports strategy, is what Collis describes as its close relationship and constant communication with its sponsored athletes. It goes far beyond slapping a sticker on their board for a pay check. And as the SuperSnake show illustrates, athletes like Danny Davis and Sean Malto were involved in every stage.
"We have a small but very effective roster of 12 athletes across snowboarding and skateboarding," says Collis. "And we are always talking to them about what we should be doing, what the brand should be doing in their world. And SuperSnake was born out of that. When we talk about creating content, sure some of it is definitely for the masses that we know will get a ton of eyeballs and appeal, but there's also niche, targeted content, and we're always looking for ways to blend those worlds, but keeping the athletes and sport's best interest in mind."
This kind of creative collaboration goes beyond content into every aspect of the brand's action sports involvement, and for Collis, reaps real results. "We just came off a remarkable July skate event in Long Beach where we completely changed up the contest format, to a four-part course and a team format, and these changes came from our conversations with the athletes," says Collis. "And the results were amazing—attendance was up 73%, our social impressions were up 2000%, and this is at an event that we're already very happy with."