The titans of the soft drink industry, the alcohol industry, and fast food industry are in the midst of a trend. DewShine is Mountain Dew’s latest throw-back soda, named in homage to moonshine that used to be called Mountain Dew in some regions of Tennessee. And it is the latest comestible to adopt a clunky portmanteau—like, for example, Drinkfinity, Mixx Tail, the Quesarito, Satisfries, and the following slue of fruit drinks from Bud Light: Lime-A-Rita, Raz-Ber-Rita, Straw-Ber-Rita, Apple-ahh-Rita, Mang-O-Rita, et cet-a-rita, et cet-a-rita.
But you know what? Something’s working.
I’m not sure where this naming trend started, but Lime-a-Rita has been perhaps the most successful example of late. With the Lime-a-Rita, Bud Light took a fancy drink—Margarita…duh—and made it into an everyday, unsophisticated, refreshing drink from a can. The extreme success of that drink led to a line of A-Ritas a mile long. The use of contrived puns or cumbersome portmanteaus in a name cultivates a satisfyingly, deliciously unsophisticated feel that, for one, softens anything that could otherwise be perceived as out of character for the brand. Satisfries doesn’t sound like a overblown health food, Drinkfinity doesn’t sound too posh (like Mio, perhaps) and the Lime-A-Rita & co doesn’t sound too fruity for the Bud Light brand. Or, other portmanteau names simply evoke a no frills fill-up, like Taco Bell’s mouthwatering Quesarito.
DewShine works in the same way. Obviously, DewShine is a clumsy portmanteau; however, that’s just the point. It’s purposely unpretentious and rough around the edges. It has an everyday, Joe-the-Plumber feel to it—not some overly tested and engineered name designed to trick us into buying it and thinking we are happy (not to say that it wasn’t!).
Furthermore, this launch signifies a refreshing break from their usual tack. Mountain Dew had marketed themselves into somewhat of a niche (albeit a soda-loving niche) with most of their drink varieties catering to gamers: Code Red, Kickstarter, Gamer Fuel, and Live Wire to name a few. But DewShine is different, a foray aimed at chasing both the millennial taste for faux-vintage products (a quick glance at the video and packaging confirms this), and riding on the success of the unpretentious name train.
I don’t think the name is perfect in its imperfection—it doesn’t work as well divorced from the information and cues given from the packaging—but I do like it. To many the link to moonshine may not be immediately clear (what with shine being a common word on its own), but that might be good as the name is already almost too close to suggesting that the product is alcoholic. But overall and most of all, DewShine is fairly descriptive but not boring, and has an alluring edginess from its hint hint of illegality, and provides a memorable twist on the name of the parent brand. While the marketing team gets an F for exploiting stereotypes of rural people (it has taken lots of restraint not to go off about the DewShine mascot “Willie the Hillbilly”), the name itself get’s an A-.