When Mountain Dew wanted new talent to help them create content that related the brand’s story to the world, they looked to their base: “Dew Nation,” the rabid fans of the soft drink, and held a contest where those fans could earn the chance to work with the company. Two years ago, Salt Lake City filmmaker Nathan Balli won the Mountain Dew Green Label Open Call contest–and today, his first major campaign with the brand launches with the first of a three-part web series in which the “DEW All-Stars” embark on unprecedented challenges built around the idea “it doesn’t exist until you do it.”
What that means in the first video, specifically, is this: off-road capture the flag, the brainchild of NASCAR driver Chase Elliott. “It’s an idea he specifically dreamt up,” Ryan Collis, Senior Director of Marketing for Mountain Dew, says of the content. “It features drones, ATVs, and motorbikes, and basically uses all of those things to play a never-done-before game of capture the flag.”
The video itself captures an exciting game, filmed in the sand dunes of Utah, that has a vibe that’s maybe half X-Games and half Mad Max: Fury Road. Elliott drives an ATV through the dunes, leaping in the air and using a mechanical claw to physically capture the flag (all practical effects that, Collis stresses, were captures on film exactly as they happened) while being pursued by a team of motor bikers trying to wrest it from him.
Elliott carries the video behind the wheel of his ATV, a bottle of Dew at his side, but he definitely co-stars with the landscape itself, which is an almost alien look at several square miles of a stretch of the Utah desert that looks like it could be another planet entirely. Balli and his team spent several days scouting locations and preparing the shoot in order to ensure that the game of capture the flag would be as unique as it could be.
“The landscape is so different from anything else that most people will ever experience, no matter where they are,” Balli told Co.Create. “You know, they don’t get out in those locations, but it’s an inspiration to see other filmmakers doing things that haven’t been done before, so we wanted to evolve into that. We really tried to play off the power of the landscape and those elements really kind of all came together.”
The details of the other videos in the series are largely under wraps, though Collis could give some information–the next one, for example, is going to star Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas, while the identity of the DEW All-Star who’ll feature in the third one is being kept close to the vest. But in all of the videos, which he expects will be released by the end of the year, the final product will be guided by the ideas of the brand’s all-star partner, then shaped by Dew and Balli.
“It’s definitely a three-way partnership, and very much a full collaboration. Chase [Elliott] came up with the idea with Dew and with Nathan [Balli] because it was something that he felt passionate about–the idea of capture the flag in a never-been-done-before way. And it’ll work with Isaiah in exactly the same way: What’s something that doesn’t exist until he does it, that he’s always dreamt of doing, and then bringing Dew and Nathan together to make that happen for him,” Collis says. “That’s really where the power of this comes from–this three-way collaboration to bring these all-stars ideas to life for them, and for consumers.”