In Robert Rodriguez's 2007 film "Planet Terror," a greenish gas causes havoc and turns normal townspeople into rampaging zombies. In 2014, the director will team up with a greenish liquid to find new filmmakers and gain some promotional assistance for his new cable network.
The maverick director, best known for films including 2001's "Spy Kids" and 2005's "Sin City," will partner with PepsiCo's Mountain Dew soda in a video-making contest known as Green Label Studios: Open Call that will award $250,000 to the winner along with an opportunity to gain Rodriguez and producer Roberto Orci as mentors. In turn, said Rodriguez in an interview, Mountain Dew will work to promote "Matador," a drama series from Orci and partner Alex Kurtzman set to debut on the recently launched El Rey Network in July.
The idea, said Greg Lyons, VP of marketing for Mountain Dew, is to mix the beverage more deeply in the interests of its consumers without throwing traditional advertising at them. For several years, Mountain Dew has, under the rubric of its Green Label content venture, highlighted efforts from emerging voices in music, fashion and sports. Now its backers want to raise the drink's profile in the world of film.
"We want professional and aspiring creators to submit content that embodies 'doing the Dew,'" said Lyons, or expressing the passion one feels for a hobby or favorite activity. "It doesn't matter what the content is as long as it embodies the spirit of the brand."
Rodriguez is beating the promotional drums for his cable outlet, El Rey Network, which launched late last year and features a TV-series version of the director's 1996 cult favorite "From Dusk Till Dawn" as its flagship series.
"We have talked a lot about some of the things we could do together," Lyons said. "There are so many different avenues we can take to partner together that I don't want to commit to one thing." Univision Communications is a minority investor in El Rey Network.
To secure some of its initial advertiser support, El Rey Network has liberally offered Rodriguez's creative services. Rodriguez and his creative team will create 30- to 90-second video vignettes for General Motors that play off themes from original programs on El Rey. Heineken USA's Dos Equis beer will be woven into "From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series," in which the storyline will feature scenes at a bar. The network will also create specific content for Heineken that can run on its air.
While that amount of activity may seem overwhelming for any TV network, which also has to develop and launch shows, Rodriguez said he thinks the deeper partnerships with initial advertisers will provide a good return to sponsors coming to El Rey before it has proven itself. "I really want to do right by the partners and give them something extra that can help their brands as well," he said. "I'm totally excited about working with these companies that come early on and put their money where their mouth is."
The director said he appreciates the opportunity to find new, even raw talent and may well find some opportunities for the winner of the Green Label contest.
Mountain Dew and Rodriguez are slated to announce their partnership today at SXSW in Austin, Texas. According to Lyons, content will need to be submitted to Green-label.com by April 25, after which it will be judged. Ten finalists will be culled from the initial entries. Those contestants will travel to New York to meet with an expert panel of filmmakers and content creators and will be required to fulfill an assignment: Each will receive $10,000 to create a new video. Rodriguez and Orci will pick the grand prize winner.
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