Why Mountain Dew Once Apologized To The State Of Michigan

The premise was simple. Mountain Dew would design a bottle for each state in the United States. They would be like the personalized Coke bottles, but they would celebrate regions instead of names. The 50 bottles would be filled with the soda's newest flavor, Liberty Brew. Best of all, the brand could name the promotion the Dewnited States.

Mountain Dew did pull this off in the summer of 2019, Ad Age reports, but not without a facepalm-inducing controversy. About a month after the bottles dropped, the Twitter account for Michigan's Upper Peninsula called out Mountain Dew's illustrated map of the Dewnited States for shading the Upper Peninsula the same color as Wisconsin instead of Michigan. "I AM NOT WISCONSIN," read the tweet, complete with punctuating clapping emojis.

So, Mountain Dew issued an apology on Twitter and offered to make an Upper Peninsula-branded Mountain Dew — and they actually did it. WZZM 13 reported the bottle's release on August 11. Its label depicted the outdoorsy aspects that define the Michigan region's culture and the proud flavor name, "Upper Peninsula." When Fast Company asked why the brand invested so much effort for a population of only 300,000 people, Nicole Portwood, Mountain Dew's VP of marketing, explained, "They're the ones buying your product, and those individual decisions to buy your product in aggregate is what determines whether your brand grows or fails." She then added that with social media, any outrage can become a serious issue.

Apparently, everyone forgets about the Upper Peninsula

Entities other than — and more serious than — Mountain Dew have made the mistake of forgetting about Michigan's Upper Peninsula before. The Detroit Free Press published an article about this often neglected area and highlighted how the U.S. Census Bureau failed to include the area in its map of Michigan. So, it's not just corporations, but even the federal government that has trouble remembering that the peninsula is part of the state.

There have been so many instances such as these, in fact, that in 2009, the Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill requiring any government illustration, depiction, or image of the state of Michigan to include the forgotten peninsula (via U.P. Supply Co). In other words, for most of the state's history, it was legally fine to not bother including ⅓ of the landmass. 

Inhabitants of the Upper Peninsula are so distinct from those down south that, as Michigan Radio describes, they are known as yoopers while their downstairs neighbors are trolls, as they live below the only bridge connecting the two parts of the state. So, the U.P. very much deserved the effort Mountain Dew put into developing its very own bottle.