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Mountain Dew's 'Willy the Hillbilly' Goes Mobile


Matthew Fields


May 16, 2008


"Willy the Hillbilly" is now a widget. The ornery looking character from Dew’s 1950’s ad campaign has been re-imagined for a mobile game that launched this week on the Zumboi platform.

Zumobi, formerly known as Zen-Zui, is a mobile technology company that was spun off from Microsoft three years ago. It allows consumers to organize their favorite mobile widgets. The current Zumobi platform is free to download on any mobile phone that uses Windows Mobile 5.0 or greater.

Thanks to a deal it has struck with Microsoft, in which it will preload the technology on new smart phones using Windows Mobile 6.1 and above, Zumobi expects up to 2 million active users by years end.

The Willy the Hillbilly widget, created by Tribal DDB NY, is the most recent brand-centric application to exclusively appear on Zumobi. It comes in the form of a casual game where the objective is to sweep away conniving thieves trying to steal Willy’s Mountain Dew. Willy uses his broom to hack his way through levels that get progressively harder.

Throughout the game Willy also entertains with catch phrases like "Yahooooo Mountain Dew" and "Mountain Dew disappeared faster than my wife on laundry day."

"We had a first look at the product late last year and felt the interface and creative opportunity was very unique," said John Vail, director of interactive marketing group for Pepsi-Cola North America, Purchase, N.Y. "Looking for mobile innovation that was agnostic, this was a perfect way to continue to experiment with mobile my using Mountain Dew, tap into the heritage of our brand and one of our platforms, gaming, now for the third screen."

Mobile gaming is expected to be a $6 billion industry by 2011, according the U.K.-based consultancy Understanding & Solutions.

Mountain Dew joins Capital One,, and MTV—all of which already have created widgets for the platform. Banner ads can be served within these applicationss, like an Associated Press news feed, as well. The average user spends 22 minutes a day using Zumobi, per the company.

These applications function as more than just being a simple ad for the brands, said Ken Willner, vp-marketing development, Zumobi, Seattle. "They engage the consumer and deliver utility and entertainment."


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