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Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Tue 20
Nov
2007

DEWmocracy: like democracy, but carbonated

What Max Reckons You know how I do that thing where I take some earnest but misguided piece of marketing and make it sound ridiculous? Well, words fail:

Click for mind-bloggling movie

So let’s see. The world is a war-torn, post-apocalyptic battleground, ruled by oppressive “corporate lords.” But one guy can “restore the soul of mankind” by designing the packaging for a soda.

Because that makes too much sense, there’s also an inexplicable ride with a native American guy in an elevator who seems to successfully encourage the hero to commit suicide. The hero skateboards everywhere for no reason except, I guess, that marketing people think cool people do that. Oh, and the movie is from Pepsi, for Mountain Dew, which you might have thought was a corporation, and thus a bad guy in this scenario, but… uh…

Anyway, the point is to entice you into playing the DEWmocracy online game, where you can team up with other players to “design the flavor, color, name, and graphics” of a drink. Mountain Dew will then launch a “recognizably similar” version of the most popular result in 2008.

Other online games promise battles with dragons or storm troopers, but only DEWmocracy lets you enter the heart-pounding virtual world of Mountain Dew’s marketing department. I assume that missions include “Unjam The Copy Machine,” “Get That Last Parking Space,” or “Battle of the PowerPoint Presentations,” with your character choosing a class like “Intern” or “Direct Sales Representative” and working his way up to the feared “Executive Vice-President.”

If this takes off, maybe the next thrilling virtual ride could take you into a bottling factory, where you spend eight hours a day inspecting caps for defects. One thing’s for sure: Mountain Dew has finally responded to all those people clamoring to work for it for no pay.

It turns out, though, that when it comes time to design your drink in DEWmocracy, all you can do is pick from a pre-selected range of options. This was getting suspicious: first they warned me evil corporations would try to stamp out my creativity, and here I was confronted with a corporation trying to reduce creativity to pick-a-box as part of a marketing effort. Aha! Clearly I was meant to reject DEWmocracy as an attempt to control the population, and go firebomb Pepsi’s offices. Yes?

Comments

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Picto (#64)

Location: United Kingdom
Quote: "Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark or the man afraid of the light? - Maurice Freehill"
Posted: 4205 days ago

I think I may just sign-up to this online game and report back my findings. Watch this space.

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 4205 days ago

Thanks to Roger for pointing me toward this one!

shabooty (#637)

Location: D.C./V.A/M.D.
Quote: "I will shake your foundation. I will shake the f**cking rafters. Nobody'll be the same -Danny Bonaduce ....& go visit my blog @: http://www.shabooty.com"
Posted: 4205 days ago

http://www.snopes.com/medical/potables/mountaindew.asp

Machine Man subscriber Roger (#1653)

Posted: 4205 days ago

"Because that makes too much sense, there’s also an inexplicable ride with a native American guy in an elevator who seems to successfully encourage the hero to commit suicide."

Holy crap! I didn't even know that was a part of it.


Max, you kick ass.

Daniel (#1474)

Location: Cleveland, OH
Quote: ""I like cat's!" gets me every time."
Posted: 4205 days ago

Alas, if only you'd written this a few hours before... I heard an ad for this on the radio while I was driving home from work, and I just HAD to sign up to see what it was all about.
And I'm very wary of the "pre-selected options" thing, since as you pointed out the ad stresses "a world without creativity" over and over again.

Jennifer M. Dambeck (#3061)

Location: NJ, USA
Quote: "Rock on"
Posted: 4205 days ago

Clearly I was meant to reject DEWmocracy as an attempt to control the population, and go firebomb Pepsi’s offices. Yes?

YES!!!

Jack (#2443)

Location: Australia, Bendigo
Posted: 4205 days ago

If someone actually does firebomb pepsi.. I just know youre gonna get sued. But hey, Max Barry tells us to do something, we do it.. CHARGE!

Keely (#1602)

Location: easy-peasy-24.livejournal.com of course!
Quote: "I always wanted to see the lights of Broadway... but then you get there and they're really kind of annoying."
Posted: 4205 days ago

You're right. Words fail.

Linnea1928 (#2654)

Location: Rosemount, MN
Posted: 4205 days ago

Oh Max, I heart you. That was ridiculous. They have some nerve.

Eric Mugendi (#2567)

Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Quote: "“How can you expect a man who's warm to understand one who's cold?” Alexander Solzhenitsyn"
Posted: 4205 days ago

The new outsourcing... Turning marketing into a turn-based game... What will they think of next, making a game where you sell games to other people?
You know, every new player who joins this thing is probably another marketing job lost. Not too pleasant a thought, considering what the company stands to gain

Jennifer Gniadecki (#3308)

Location: Chicago-ish
Quote: "Happier than you and dragging you along for the ride"
Posted: 4205 days ago

I spent the entire movie laughing SO hard!

My favorite part is that the "Chosen One" finds his destiny by WIPING OUT on his skateboard. No Tony Hawk here...not doing a face plant would be too corporate is my guess.

As for the levels in the game, after fixing the copy machine I picture a printer error and an ominous voice saying "PC Load Letter" *grin*

Thanks again for making my day!

Christian (#2192)

Location: Calgary, Canada
Quote: "If being a nerd was baseball, I'd be starting quarterback!"
Posted: 4205 days ago

Max, didn't you do something quite similar by encouraging your readers to design the label of the can for fukk (fu*k) for free? www.maxbarry.com/2007/08/28/news.html

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 4205 days ago

Ha! Yes, indeed. Except I didn't hire Forest Whitaker to tell you you'd be saving the world from evil author overlords.

Jei Post Rok (#3337)

Location: U.K.
Quote: "Idiot A: "It wasn't my fault, i was only following orders." Idiot B: "I only gave orders, i didn't do anything!""
Posted: 4205 days ago

Similar?

This isn't 'Pepsi challenge' similar, Christian; it's more like the difference between choosing to express yourself through a felt lined children's colouring in by numbers book or a hands-on invitation to take part in a weekend art exhibition.

The question on my mind right now is: Is this advertising campaign unintentionally ironic or is it an intentional rebellious inside job? Wage slaves truly expressing themselves through their own corporate master: high-impact guerrilla marketed graffiti.

Either way, the multi-faceted irony is not lost on me.

John Haughton (#2630)

Location: sunderland
Posted: 4205 days ago

I like the stuff, but the only place I know of in Sunderland (England’s North East… near Newcastle) that one may purchase a can is this Chinese shop that sells all this weird and wonderful Chinese pickled and vacuum packed food, that more often than not tastes intensely foul to the point that you cant get rid of the smell or taste for the rest of the day. The shop also sells several varieties of perverted, cold, milkless, tea that’s packed full of herbs which makes it taste like your drinking a mixture of larger and perfume… It make’s you wonder why the hell amongst all this Chinese stuff you’d suddenly find Mountain Dew turning up, oh and this stuff called royal which they (Coca-Cola) claim to be Dalandan flavoured…

Ed (#3191)

Location: Dark Side of the Moon
Quote: "The future is much like the present, only longer."
Posted: 4205 days ago

"more often than not tastes intensely foul to the point that you cant get rid of the smell or taste for the rest of the day."
That would include Mountain Dew, then. I live in one of the few Pepsi cities, so I see this stuff all over the place. I used to love it. Now I can't stand it. Except for the live wire.

Machine Man subscriber Kyle (#3321)

Location: Burnie, Tasmania
Posted: 4204 days ago

Hahaha.

towr (#1914)

Location: Netherlands
Posted: 4204 days ago

We could always join the game and opt for the most ridiculous combination of options for the new design. We'd have to coordinate our efforts, of course; and probably do some lobbying to get others to join. But similar efforts of sabotage have been effective before.

Tim (#3178)

Posted: 4204 days ago

Wow, they go right past offensive and into glorious self-parody. This is like a Cirque de Soleil of unintentional irony.

Or is it?

It is, actually.

It's like some awful jambalaya of cliches, randomly assembled by a child who absorbs everything into... well, nothing. I was at various moments reminded of Bladerunner, The Matrix, Judge Dredd, Demolition Man, The Shining, an early Duran Duran video, those pollution PSA's from the 70's Iron Eyes Cody, oh yeah, and that damned James Blunt video.

And yet it always looked like a backlot at Paramount.

It would have been glorious if it had all climaxed in a big musical number.

John Haughton (#2630)

Location: sunderland
Posted: 4204 days ago

Pepsi cities...?

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 4204 days ago

I visited a Pepsi city once. They asked if I had anything to declare, but I forgot about a Coke can in my backpack. Next thing a SWAT squad with German shepherds are chasing me across muddy fields as I flee back to the border. I had to kill three men to escape.

Picto (#64)

Location: United Kingdom
Quote: "Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark or the man afraid of the light? - Maurice Freehill"
Posted: 4204 days ago

That sounded like a dream I had last night, only the SWAT squad were leprachauns dressed in boiler suits, and I was running towards an apple juice factory carrying orange juice, threatening fruit domination. I don't know what came over me.

Brad Lee (#1964)

Location: Lubbock, Texas, U.S.A.
Quote: "Everyone dies at some point, why not go on your own terms, at your own discretion. Naked covered in syrup. Yeah."
Posted: 4203 days ago

I'm so glad to see this, it's validates my whole day, I saw the commercial at work today and knew that I'd be reading about it when I got home, and Max, you didn't disappoint, it seems you even got to it before I knew this existed. Huzzah.

Machine Man subscriber Stygian Emperor (#2947)

Location: the Stygian Empire
Quote: "Flesh is a design flaw."
Posted: 4203 days ago

That comment sounds like a good book idea, Max!

Machine Man subscriber Roger (#1653)

Posted: 4203 days ago

I'm actually surprised nobody mentioned this sooner, Max. I've seen these ads floating around for at least a month. The fist time I saw the commercial, I had planned to email you, but I wasn't near a computer, so I didn't feel like it.

Mark Tran (#3249)

Location: Canada
Quote: "If you lived here, You'd be home."
Posted: 4203 days ago

Oh, now I understand.. soft drinks are freedom. It's all so clear now. Clearly, posters advertising a drink are "creativity" and should be painted over. That was absolutely ridiculous. Seriously.

Prue Meehan (#3306)

Location: Australia
Quote: ""I intend to live forever. So far, so good." Steven Wright"
Posted: 4202 days ago

That was hilarious to watch after reading the blog! The Indian man in his pristine white suit in the lift cracked me up when I got to it. What was that?! and why?! But I have to say I was impressed that despite the Chosen One's several near misses and lucky escapes racing through his war-torn city, he still managed to maintain his healthy, glossy bouffant hair-do. I reckon the ad would've been much more successful at advertising a new strong-hold hairspray.

the-tine (#472)

Location: Pennsylvania, USA
Quote: "Coming soon to a planet near you."
Posted: 4200 days ago

So...Kevin Rudd.

What's that like?

Michael Ricksand (#2212)

Location: Terra
Quote: "You do not have a right to be stupid."
Posted: 4199 days ago

This is one of those things that make me ask myself: When, exactly, did someone say "Yeah, this is where our money's going!"?

Phoenix (#2361)

Location: Somewhere in New Zealand
Quote: "You mean I have to narrow it down to a single quote? I feel a bit like a kid in a giant candy store who's been told they can pick ONE piece of candy..."
Posted: 4192 days ago

Ah yes, I'm sure this sounded like a good idea to them at the time :P I can imagine the execs at Pepsi getting all excited going "yes! this is definitely what young people want! We're going to be popular!" (quite possibly similar to the London 2012 logo) I love what companies come up with to try and entice people to watch their advertising. I've gotta say though - mintshot.co.nz over here seems to be doing pretty well. The idea is that you watch ads, collect mintshot dollars then bid on auctions that run on the site. People are always trying to watch more and more ads to win the auctions they want - it's sneaky how it sucks you in like that lol

deonte (#3349)

Location: Arlington, Va
Quote: ""lean wit it, rock wit it""
Posted: 4189 days ago

This is an awesome game, reminds me of second life! getting past the chamber was quite difficult for me. Also, I think the concept is quite compelling. I think the flavor has a good chance of being really tasty. Its crowd sourcing at its finest. Kinda like youtube + wikipedia meets second life = Awesome soft drink. Can't wait to try it after playing the game.

blab (#1632)

Location: The Sandwich Isles
Quote: "Adventure is just poor planning"
Posted: 4183 days ago

YES!

BTW, shouldn't you be asking them for some kind of payment since it was yourself who thought of advertising your product (JG) with an online game. :D

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