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PepsiCo launches branded mobile widget for Mountain Dew

PepsiCo Inc. today launches a branded mobile widget for its Mountain Dew soft drink, bringing back a '50s icon as a key attraction for its target audience of active consumers.

A mobile game, the widget features Willy the Hillbilly trying to protect his jugs of Mountain Dew from being stolen by others. The game was created by interactive agency Tribal DDB, New York, and hosted on Zumobi's mobile content platform.

"Mountain Dew is trying to establish engagement with their consumer," said Ken Willner, vice president of business development at Zumobi, Seattle.

"Mountain Dew is really looking for a way to go beyond traditional SMS text and WAP banners and Zumobi is enabling a deeper level of immersion and engagement with their users," he said.

The game is targeted to consumers with smartphones using the Windows Mobile operating system. It will be available to BlackBerry users later this quarter.

Consumers interested in playing the game can access it on Zumobi's PC Web site at http://www.zumobi.com or download it via Web-enabled mobile phones by visiting http://get.zumobi.com.

The widget follows the antics of Willy the Hillbilly as he staves off intruders from stealing his large jugs of Mountain Dew.

Players who assume Willy's role get points for successfully defending the jugs. Play can go as long as a half-hour.

Also, players can also search the widget or send it to a friend, colleague or loved one. Or they can play again, picking up either where they left off or starting anew.

The Web site at www.mountaindew.com is listed on the final frame of the widget, although consumers can't click-through to visit.

"It's an immersive experience and the user tries to scare away as many people to get to the next level," Mr. Willner said.

This is Zumobi's first engagement with PepsiCo, one of the largest beverage marketers worldwide with brands such as Pepsi, Mirinda, Tropicana, Sierra Mist, Tava and the Aquafina water.

Zumobi currently has created branded mobile widgets for two other companies, credit card giant Capital One and leading online retailer Amazon.com.

The Capital One widget, done in conjunction with the company's Avenue A/Razorfish interactive agency, is a tip calculator on mobile phones. This widget helps calculate tips at restaurants.

The widget for Amazon is for merchandising. It presents books, DVDs or other products. The widget is fully integrated with Amazon's application programming interface. Users click on the widget and are taken to the Amazon mobile Web site where they can buy the featured products.

Zumobi's widget for Mountain Dew was created using the Zumobi software development kit. That development, even for branding purposes, requires heavy lifting that most don't see.

"It's not trivial to create the kind of experience we have with our technology," Mr. Willner said.

"The local caching, the background synchronization and the user-centric interface is very compelling and immersive," he said.