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Spoiler warning for those who haven't yet watched the latest episode of The Walking Dead: World Beyond.
Given its alt-timeline, The Walking Dead and its various spinoffs understandably haven't been the most likely places to see televised product placement. That's all changing now, however. For those who wondered why in the world a bottle of Mountain Dew made such a blatant appearance in the early minutes of The Walking Dead: World Beyond, it's all thanks to a new marketing push between AMC Networks and PepsiCo. So expect to see more of those kinds of moments in Dead universe's future.
How The Walking Dead: World Beyond Referenced Mountain Dew
"Truth or Dare" largely hinged on a particularly dark military secret being kept by Annet Mahendru's Huck, but the episode also gave her moments of levity and bonding with other characters. Early on, she surprised Nico Tortorella's Felix by sharing with him an unopened bottle of Mountain Dew whose packaging put it around 2010. And that was before the booze came out, too.
Felix was unsurprisingly excited about getting a chance to drink a soda that had gone extinct with the rest of the world, and even questioned its legitimacy. He copped that he will "never stop missing these," and that he used to drink Mountain Dew "like water" back before everything went to hell. Clearly, this was a moment aimed directly at viewers who also miss drinking sugary sodas while fending off the undead, and both PepsiCo and AMC are hoping that the visual reference results in more Mountain Dew being bought in stores.
Also of note was a moment when characters were passing a convenience store, and an older Mountain Dew advertisement could be seen. According to Variety, company employees helped to dig back into their marketing archives both for the bottle design and the 1960s-era signage.
What To Expect From The Walking Dead And PepsiCo In The Future
AMC Networks' senior vice president of integrated marketing Kim Granito stated that bringing that kind of product placement is something the team loved bringing to the live-action series. As well, she noted that those kinds of products will need "authentic" reasons for their appearances, presumably aiming to curb viewers' worries that the Walking Dead shows will start to bow down to the advertising gods. Realistically speaking, though, it's unclear how the shows will bring in other products in ways that don't involve someone finding [fill in the blank] on a scavenging run. I guess if the group would find an abandoned Gatorade factory to stay in one night or something...
Here's how Nicole Portwood, PepsiCo's vice president of marketing for Mountain Dew, put it to Variety.
[Mountain Dew's marketing is] centralized around two things, culture and our fans. We believe this integration sits at the nexus of both — Walking Dead is a highly anticipated show that remains a part of pop culture and conversation. We believe the way the brand is shown in the episode will resonate with fans of the brand as well as the general audience.
Considering how much Morgan has loved talking about his peanut butter protein bars in the past, it probably wouldn't be too hard to make him an avid fan of Mountain Dew in future episodes of Fear the Walking Dead. It will probably be somewhat jarring for viewers when those moments occur, considering AMC has only set up on major advertising tie-in within The Walking Dead itself. That involved characters using a green Hyundai Tuscon within episodes as a getaway car, but not much beyond that. As such, it's a pretty big deal for PepsiCo, even though Walking Dead's hold on pop culture is nowhere near what it was during its peak.
Mountain Dew's history with AMC didn't start with just this episode, though. Fans might remember back in 2017 when AMC released the Dew-infused augmented reality app that allowed users to witness walkers in real time. It's reported that in 2019 alone, PepsiCo spent over $69 million on advertising across both The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead.
Mountain Dew gave the world one of the best moments of 2020, and while I'll cop to this not exactly being a year full of "best" moments, it was still amazing. I'm talking, of course, about the soda's Super Bowl commercial featuring Bryan Cranston in full Shining mode, which is still a good time to watch. (Cranston is also no stranger to AMC, of course.)
With or without soft drinks on tap, The Walking Dead: World Beyond airs Sunday nights on AMC around 9:00 p.m. ET, right after new episodes of Fear the Walking Dead Season 6. While waiting to see what happens next in this expanding world, head to our 2020 Fall TV premiere schedule and our 2021 Winter and Spring rundown to see what new and returning shows are on the way.