As far as brands go, Mountain Dew may be one of America’s most recognized. It has colors that are unique, it has a distinctive feel, and its font and logo are very recognizable. I always know when I am looking at a Mountain Dew ad. It isn’t often that I seek out Mountain Dew ads, or pay attention much at home. But it became apparent that they have distinguished themselves quite successfully when I arrived in Bangkok earlier this week.
Bangkok is one of the world’s largest cities, and is definitely the largest city in Southeast Asia. And in urban Asia, marketing is king. From everything I have heard and seen in movies, and based on what I have experienced so far in Thailand, advertising is constant and ubiquitous. From the moment we stepped out of passport control in the Bangkok airport, we have been bombarded by advertising. Lots of it focuses on skin and hair care, with beautiful pale models hawking everything from hair gel (my favorite so far is Gatsby by Moving Rubber) to makeup remover (Biore) and shampoo (Pantene). Electronics is a close second, with tons of ads and posters for the latest gadget, particularly smartphones, and allegedly cell reception throughout Asia is excellent. Third would probably be vitamin supplements and energy drinks, and fourth would be home goods, like furniture and lightbulbs.
When I say advertisements are ubiquitous, I don’t mean in the usual lots of posters sense. I mean, everything you see, touch, or hear is some kind of ad. Not only are the train cars covered in advertisements, but so are the subway straps, the platforms, and the stairways, with digital screens playing ads as place markers for where to queue up to board the trains, in addition to giant digital televisions in every station. The billboards are digital, too, to make sure that you are hit with more than one ad as you sit in traffic behind a hundred tuk-tuks. It is advertising overload.
So it is somewhat remarkable that I was able to pick out an American brand like Mountain Dew amidst the noise that is Bangkok. But there it was, painted on a column at one of the local subway stations. The actual Mountain Dew logo was different, since it was translated to Thai, but I could tell what it was based on the colors and the action of the ad. The guy in it is kayaking in Mountain Dew-colored water (which is kinda gross when you really think about it), and the trademark red and blue text is above him as he battles the waves, presumably armed with the energy required by Mountain Dew. It’s a fun, young ad, targeting young and active people, and it grabbed me for whatever reason. I must have been thirsty because at no point in the US would I ever reach for a Mountain Dew, but while I was hot and sweaty, with my big bag and surrounded by hundreds of other hot and sweaty people, I really wanted to be with that guy kayaking, and I wanted to drink the yellow beverage.
Thus, two successes for Mountain Dew. One, being sufficiently branded so as to be recognizable amidst the advertising chaos, and two, for making an ad so convincing as to attract a new customer. Maybe I’ll write them a letter to congratulate them. But then again, they might send me Mountain Dew, and really, I don’t need that much sugar. The Asian models I keep seeing have succeeded only in making me feel fat and ugly.