Saturday, March 28, 2009
Geekanerd Giveaway! Or: The Power of Fan Democracy
The drink in question is Mountain Dew, which recently had a fan vote to see what color their new Dew, Voltage, would be (spoiler alert: it's blue).
This got me thinking about past examples of companies putting the fate of their properties in the consumers hands. There have been fails, and there have been sales. Let's take a look at fan democracy in action....
Marvel vs DC
In this epic cross dimensional war of the mid 90s, fans got to decide the victor of the fights. It was a chance for comic nerds to democratically settle age-old "who would win" debates once and for all.
Or not. Certain results were so unlikley it can only be concluded that fans voted along party lines, and that the Marvel boys had the majority. How else to explain Storm beating Wonder Woman? And we all like Wolverine, but taking down Lobo? The Main Man is an instellar demi-god who's held his own against Superman...Wolvie would be lucky to scratch up his leather jacket.
More tales of fan power after the jump...or just skip to the end for free soda...
What happens when you give fans TOO much power? A curious example of this scenario can be found in the relaunch of ReBoot, which you may fondly remember as a smart and funny Saturday morning CG cartoon from the early 90s. When the property was acquired by Rainmaker Entertainment, the devs gave the show's loyal fans a major stake in how the relaunch would proceed. They posted five ideas for a new ReBoot web comic, each by a separate production team, and let fans decide on which concept and team would get the green light.
The winner was Arrival, which was generally considered by the voters to have a plot that stuck closest to the original series, and brought back all the original characters. But sadly, geek cred doesn't necessarily translate to quality, and the comic was ripped apart by the same people who gave it the green light.
New M&M Color
Oh light brown M&M, we hardly knew thee. In 1995, Mars Inc. in their infinite wisdom decidded to kick their classiest shade of candy shell to the curb, and let consumers vote on the replacement. The winner was blue, America's favorite color, who we now all know and love as the cool M&M who likes to wears sunglasses, just like Poochie. I miss tan.
Verdict: Sale AND Fail
The self proclaimed "first interactive movie" was also the last. This 1995 slapstick comedy played only in theaters specially equipped with seatside remotes, which allowed you to pick the main character's decisions for him. Hey, we all loved choose your own adventure books when we were kids, same thing, right?
"NO!" screamed film critics. The mere idea of allowing an audience to steer the course of a film offended anyone who worshiped at the altar of the capital a Auteur. Critics might have given it a bit more of a chance if the film hadn't been a completely horrible piece of early nineties trash, but it bombed bad enough to put off anyone who might have improved on the gimmick.
Verdict: Mega Fail!
This is the big one. Long before Cap and Superman's "deaths" made headlines, the news was picking up the story of the Boy Wonder's fan-mandated death as proof that comic geeks are not only uncool, but sadistically disturbed. The more subtle truth is that A)The robin who died was a mean little impostor to Dick Grayson's throne, and not the beloved sidekick most of America knows and loves and B)Even then, the vote was very close.
This also happens to be a case in which fans made the right choice: offing Jason addressed the irresponsibility of Batman's decision to train child apprentices, and gave the Dark Knight a new degree of doubt and humility. It also gave us Tim Drake, a smarter, more interesting Robin, and got rid of that Jason brat for a good decade or so. Those were the days.
So where will Voltage fall in this grand tradition of product/consumer synergy? That's for us to decide. And you can sample Dewmocracy in action on us.
Email us at Tips@GeekanerdBlog.com with a fan vote we missed, or one you think needs to happen. We'll pick the most interesting submission and the folks at Mountain Dew will send them a free case of sweet, sweet, blue caffeine juice. Contest ends Friday, April 5th.