WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

What were they thinking at PepsiCo?

In this modern world of marketing & audience research, one wonders HOW PepsiCo could have unleashed such a repugnant advert for Mountain Dew (created by the founder of a hiphop group).

Here's an account from the British newspaper (The INDEPENDENT), along with the video...


Cynical thought: Folks in PepsiCo's marketing department for Mountain Dew knew EXACTLY what they were doing. Produce an advert that would offend many people (except for a tiny subset of current and potential soft drink consumers) that those marketers KNEW they'd have to withdraw, but they'd thrive on all the free media exposure.

When I was growing up in the Chicago suburbs, Mountain Dew seemed to be perceived as a hillbilly drink. And "Mountain Dew" was a Southern - Scots/Irish term for "moonshine".

It was seldom stocked in sodapop machines in the suburbs, but was much more commonly seen in rural areas further south.

A few decades later, Mountain Dew seemed to develop a following among more affluent young people, perhaps for the caffeine, before stronger, even more highly caffeinated soft drinks & power beverages began to appear.

Perhaps to reverse slippage to some of the newer, power beverages, Mountain Dew in 2010-2012 introduced a competition involving the limited introduction of new flavors. (Pitch Black seemed to develop a loyal following.)

More recently, Mountain Dew seemed to give up its experimentation with new flavors.

Back to basics with an advert misfire?

Posted at 8:18am on May 2, 2013 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Thu, May 2, 2013 8:21am
I think the bubbles went to their heads.

Thu, May 2, 2013 8:49am
Reading the account of the ad, it is horrible. I can't see any wisdom in making an ad like that and pulling it.... That sounds like something I'd say if I made a gross mistake and got caught... "Oh, I wanted to just get your reaction.. that was all part of the plan, yep.yep."

On to Mountain Dew: As your station's Soda connoisseur already knows, there is a "Throwback" version of Mt. Dew on the shelfs today that is made with cane sugar, not high fructose corn syrup... If you ever wondered what the high fructose corn syrup is doing to your body, you need to try the throwback version and compare how your body feels to it, as opposed to regular MT. Dew made with the "cheap stuff"

The throwback version reminded me of how great Mt. Dew was when it came out. I believe some of you may remember the original commercials showing swinging off a rope-swing into a creek... It was a play on moonshine and was marketed originally to that group of society that was well-familiar with moonshine. Remember: Pepsi Cola was headquartered in Atlanta.

Here is the first, (10 seconds long) actually one I haven't seen.... but it proves my point...


And here is one pushing MT. Dew to a whole different set of consummers.


Difficult to believe Clinton was still president then. It is like commercials are timeless, but politics get old fast.

And since I'm on commercials, I thought I'd share this one compilation, which ATT predicts the future rather well from back when George HW Bush was president....


Although they misjudged the longevity of the phone-booth, the only thing they really got wrong, was that it wasn't ATT who would bring it to us... :)

Thu, May 2, 2013 9:07am
"Advert?" Allan Loudell is reading too many British newspapers. Nobody says "advert" in the US.

Back to double-[standards: This ad (spot, commercial) was written by a Black rapper. I thought under the double-standard of political correctness, only Whites can be racist. Like only men can be sexist. Black (African-American, Urban) rap (hip-hop) is constantly filled with racial stereotypes and racial insults, up to and including the so-called "N-word." If this is OK in so-called "music," why not in commercials?

The Brits seem to miss the fact that this is an ad by a Black "creative" targeting Blacks - and in the US (not Britain, where the rules are different). Apparently, the only objection comes from a professor and professional activist, who seems to find racism whereever he looks. And seems to make his living complaining about the racism he "uncovers." Even money Allan Loudell schedules an interview with him (playing right into hands).

Coke is headquartered in Atlanta. Pepsi is headquartered in Purchase, NY (suburban NYC - Westchester County).

Allan Loudell
Thu, May 2, 2013 9:33am
Mr. Smith---

You - who has admonished people on this very blog to use their search engines - knows better.

Yes, I happened to link to a British paper, but use your search engine: You can find tons and tons of criticism of Mountain Dew from U.S. columnists and bloggers, and it pretty much runs across the spectrum.

And while some ardent defenders of political correctness will continue to argue that only members of the racial majority group can be racists (because members of the racial minority don't have the "power"; they can only be prejudiced!), surely rap / hiphop has shattered that tenet for a lot of people! Also no shortage of misogynistic lyrics.

Rappers might be able to claim they can use racist language because they're rapping about their "own", but they don't have the same defense when it comes to debasing women.

By the way, I can't make up my mind on the supposed group targeted with this ad.

I note your irony about Pepsi based in the "North" and Coca Cola in the "South". Of course, some Tennessee beverage bottlers developed the original Mountain Dew formula.

Personally, I strongly dislike citrus-based soft-drinks.

Colas are okay (although I'm a Royal Crown partisan, especially Royal Crown Cherry, which appears to have disappeared! Among Coca-Cola's offerings, I favor Vanilla Coke!)

But my staple soft drink has always been Dr Pepper, and when possible sugar-cane Dr Pepper from Dublin, Texas; and I thought Dr Pepper Berries & Cream (since discontinued) was the very best of all!

Allan Loudell

Thu, May 2, 2013 10:24am
I do admire the Dr Pepper - Snapple Group (based in Dallas), which made a business out of acquiring most everything that wasn't Coke or Pepsi (and realizing that still left a considerable market).
Dr. Pepper
Canada Dry
Orange Crush
Grape Nehi
and a bunch more. Almost everything except Moxie.

That said, it is flavored sugar water (plus carbonation). It's the basis of millions of people's health problems. Next to cigarettes, soda is probably the most hazardous to your health product on the market.

Soda ads have gone a long way - DOWN - since the early Mountain Dew (kids jumping into a mountain lake), the Pepsi Generation or buying the world a Coke. These were Madison Avenue classics and captured the "feel" of their respective products. Political correctness aside, I don't see any kind of connection between this ad and the Mountain Dew "experience." I think those who decide to be offended are playing the race card but even so nothing in the ad draws me to the product.

Allan Loudell
Thu, May 2, 2013 10:42am
Yes, it has been interesting to look at the acquisitions of the Dr Pepper / Snapple Group.

You're correct about the health aspects of sugar.

I'm still more afraid of sodium than sugar, however, and seek low-sodium options when possible.

And sugar substitutes in beverages and other products may be more dangerous than the sugar! Perhaps this ends up being like the butter vs. margarine debate. (I try to avoid both!)

I tend to think red-meat diets are perhaps the most dangerous after smoking.

Back to beverages: Seems a lot of the focus has gone now to power beverages, teas & coffees; water infused with some fruity taste, etc.

Agreed, political correctness aside, nothing about the ad is enticing to me. But, probably neither you nor I represent the target audience.

Speaking of ads, I think the current Arby's radio spots now running are very good!

Allan Loudell

Thu, May 2, 2013 10:48am

I'm sure 7-Up has a dominant market share against Mountain Dew. 7-Up also tastes better.

Drinking Dr. Pepper always felt like drinking sugar water.

Thu, May 2, 2013 10:56am
I think the premise supposed by the ad's creators, is that if you don't care about race at all, it is funny because of the goat... "Like it's not real, man. It's just a goat!"

But that is not true. In fact the ad seems to flaunt violence against women, seems to vault criminals into a higher status over legal authorities, and seems promote not snitching as the "cool" path to follow... and also makes one want to kick the next goat he sees.

It IS really a bad ad that makes one want to distance themselves as a far away as possible from anything portrayed in that scene.

I'm sure Coke is happy.

Thu, May 2, 2013 11:06am
Actually Dr. Pepper was formulated in Texas from prune juice. Prune juice was believed to have certain medicinal properties, and as were Coke and Pepsi, Dr. Pepper was a drugstore concoction that was sold for medicinal qualities.

You can check this out yourself by tasting prune juice and saying "Wow, that taste's a bit like Dr. Pepper, just without the bubbles."

Dr. Pepper doesn't like to be equated with it these days, and it is probably all made with artificial flavors, except for possibly that coming from the plant in Texas which is still in operation. Interestingly Dr. Pepper is the number one selling drink in the counties still supplied by that one plant, so they may still be using the original recipe with original ingredients.

Thu, May 2, 2013 11:18am
...And a tip of the hat to Allan for also recognizing that Royal Crown Cola is the best one out there. I once heard from a bottler it was the tiny taste of pine in the original water that they still keep in there.

And Allan, you asked this question on a different thread and I didn't get a chance to answer it. But the reason that ice is full in restaurant fountain soda glasses is because that ice melting is actually a piece of the formula in how the soda tastes. To achieve the perfect soda taste, one must use one part of syrup to 5 parts of water. Diets have a different concentration, which is a 1:5.5 ratio.

If the machine is calibrated correctly (most aren't btw, they err on the water side), and you got a soda with anything less than a full glass of ice, you are not getting the right flavor found in a bottle or can.

You could interview a spokesperson on the air about it; I'm sure they'd love to promote their brand, or bring it up on the Thirsty Thursday before you come on and perhaps Rick can call. Pepsi used to bottle locally on Gov. Printz Ave, but I think consolidation took them out. I haven't been that way in years. That would be a great local connection. But any soda technician, either in a Pepsi or a Coke van, will be able to corroborate that fact for you.. Heck. Greg probably already knows it.

Allan Loudell
Thu, May 2, 2013 11:31am

As nearly as I can tell, Dr Pepper - throughout its history - has denied the prune juice stories.

I tend to reject such an association between Dr Pepper and prune juice for this one reason: Prune juice is one of the few fruit juices I can't stand, and I LOVE Dr Pepper. Could carbonation and a few other ingredients make that much difference to the taste buds?

By the way, many other products with Dr Pepper "flavor" can be found from time to time: Jelly beans, barbecue sauce, even syrup (for ice cream)... to name just a few.

Incidentally, my wife LOVES the ice in soft drinks, and sometimes complains (at a restaurant) when there's not enough!

Allan Loudell

Thu, May 2, 2013 11:35am
Speaking of soda - and ice - in restaurants. Maybe somebody knows this: In places with self-serve soda dispensers (fast food places and convenience stores), why does the diet soda fizz up so much more than than regular (sugared) sodas? When the cup starts over-flowing, it's only about one-third to one-half full of actual soda. The rest is fizz. You have to wait for the fizz to die down (several times) to keep filling the cup. Some places, the diet soda doesn't just flow down; it sprays in all directions, much of it missing the cup. If I make the mistake of holding onto the cup while filling it, I've got sticky soda all over my hand.

kavips: If melted ice is part of the formula, how come usually most of the ice is left when the soda is gone? Even when I do take-out (instead of eating at the fast-food place) the ice is there at the end. And since people fill their own cups, no way to enforce a formula.

I understand the cost of a soda (water, ice, syrup, and cup) is about two cents. Prices start around 99 cents for a small (more for bigger sizes). That's one huge profit.

Thu, May 2, 2013 10:52pm
BillSmith. The ice melted is tested. They know just how much water melts off the ice and that amount of water is calculated into the formula... If you ever find a self serve machine and play around with it, you will probably be convinced... (hint: it was the only way this skeptic ever came to accept it). However, since soda machine calibrations are rarely checked, and the boxes of soda cost between $50 and $75 dollars each (right Mr. Pizza?) If you can stretch a week without changing a box on each flavor, then on a 9 head machine, you saved over $450 dollars that week by dispensing a little more water and a little less syrup than you should have. In plain speak you are watering down the drinks. Almost all self serve fountains are set with lower syrup ratios. Ironically, while doing so may be seen as cheating the guests, it is improving the health of all its customers...

Someone here mentioned a month ago that they felt high fructose corn syrup really overworked the insulin system. I haven't seen anyone else's reports done on that but I am beginning to think it could be a very good hypothesis... Which may explain why the generation growing up in the 00's is the most obese American generation ever. We've had ubiquitous soda's since the 20's.. But the obesity just started 00. Furthermore as of 2010, the Diabetes levels tested are soaring off the charts. Something happened in America's diet and high fructose corn syrup just may be it.

As for Dr. Pepper. I can understand why Dr. Pepper would want to distance itself from Prune Juice. Allan just proved it. Who would ever try it if they knew? Most people don't like prune juice. But if you dilute it, add sugar and carbonation, it tastes great... Of course today, prune juice or prune juice extract would be excessively expensive, compared to chemicals which give the same smell and flavor. For example, order a shot made by adding amaretto to a beer, you get the same taste as Dr. Pepper. Bartenders usually add a stronger liquor to get you drunk, but that actually takes away from the Dr. Pepper tastes... It does taste just like Dr. Pepper. (Just curious if Jensen can remember that recipe from his ancient bar days)

As for diet soda, it does foam more. The surface tension is different because of the chemical difference between aspartame and the high fructose corn syrup. If you can imagine mixing at home, a glass of water with Karo's corn syrup and a glass of water with an Equal packet, then shaking them. the heavier syrupy foam would fall flat first ... That is not it exactly but that gives the basis as to why a sugarless diet foams a lot more... The pressures of the dispensing heads are the same; the phenomenon is even present in 2 liters and cans and bottles.

And BillSmith, your soda prices are based on the 90's. Currently each soda costs around 6 cents no matter the size, which is why giving all sizes for a dollar at McDonalds is a good marketing ploy. And most restaurants profit is hinged on sodas... And I'm giving away all of Mr. Pizza's secrets here, but if you sell a chicken sandwich for $10, and it costs you $3.63 to make, your gross take on the meal is $6.47. But if they buy a soda with the meal, your gross take is now $7.41.. Multiply that difference by a hundred people and you begin to see why you get glares when you only order water with lemon. Nothing else the propieter can sell will give him that much bump... And most drinks in casual restaurants today are in the $2.50 range with unlimited refills. One would need to drink 41 glasses before restaurant reaches cost on that all you can drink item...

And don't be shocked. As usual the things whose cost is the cheapest and therefore have the highest profit margins are what get advertised the most. Those businesses can afford high advertising budgets. Beer, is made from bread and water. Soda is made from sugar and water. Fast food is sold very high for what you actually get...

if you see something advertised on TV, you are probably getting royally ripped off... especially if they advertise on the Super Bowl....

Thu, May 2, 2013 11:01pm
And Allan. There is a link between ice crunchers and anemia or iron deficiency in the blood... I'm sure some people just like ice, but thought I'd mention that a connection is there.....

I found a site with personal testimonies...


Thu, May 2, 2013 11:04pm
Without trying to be "pun"ny, I enjoyed this digression into soda. It was very.... refreshing.

Mike from Delaware
Thu, May 2, 2013 11:26pm
If you're a Diet Soda drinking, beware of the expiration dates. The shelf life of Diet Soda is shorter than Regular Soda. Once that shelf life date passes, diet soda tastes like club soda. The chemicals apparently breakdown. Ah, better living through chemistry. I know first hand, I do drink diet soda, but not as much as I used to. I don't ever drink regular soda, the idea of 9-12 teaspoons of sugar, or corn syrup in each 12 oz can is a turn off for me.

Fri, May 3, 2013 7:03am
"Beer, is made from bread and water."

kavips: Cheap, tasteless American beer maybe. Not the real thing. Real beer is made with water, barley, and hops (two out of three are not found in bread).

Speaking of obscene profits. Adulterate beer with wheat, rice, or corn, cut way back on hops, run ads almost as stupid as the one which started this thread (with a dog instead of a goat), run it through some filter made of fish innards and tell people it's "less filling" (less fattening), reduce the alcohol content so they have to drink more to get a buzz, get them to drink it really cold so they can't taste it, and you have the commercial success of the big US brewers.

The only thing US is beer has in common with bread - Wonder Bread - is all the artificial ingredients and chemicals. Both products are dead. Real beer and real bread are alive.

Allan Loudell
Fri, May 3, 2013 8:44am
Beneath the shelf-space, advertising, and hype of the big corporate brewers, the United States also now hosts a bewildering array of craft brewers and beer styles.

Quoting from The BEER BOOK (2008):

"If the U.S. was once known as the land of bland, pale lager, those days are long gone. In beer terms, this is the most exciting, dynamic nation, with more craft brewers than anywhere else on Earth. Their passions feed a beer culture in which diversity of styles, intensity of flavors, originality, and experimentation are the motivating factors---not rules & traditions. What more could any beer enthusiast want?"

Of course, it's up to the beer drinker to decide if he/she only wants brews with the traditional ingredients of the German beer purity code -- or beers incorporating other ingredients.

Allan Loudell

Fri, May 3, 2013 9:00am
Allan Loudell: True. But craft beer is not what most people in this country drink. In much of the country, you can't even find it on store shelves. Craft beer is a blue-neighborhoods-in-blue-states phenomenon.

Craft beer is a niche item. As the founder of Anchor Brewery once said, they don't produce as much as Anheuser-Busch (now part of InBev) spills.

Americans may be drinking better coffee. The beer most people drink still sucks. And now the big brewers are trying to take over the craft beer "niche" with their own fake craft beers, and push real craft beers off the shelves. Just as they did with most of the local and regional brands. They either drove them out of business or bought them up and started slapping the label on beer made in their own brewery in another part of the country (figuring most people wouldn't notice).

Allan Loudell
Fri, May 3, 2013 9:21am
I know what you're saying, Mr. Smith.

I've never been able to understand why folks are so willing to settle for mediocre brews. Unwillingness to experiment? Succumbing to the advertising hype? Perhaps just dollars and cents.

Even during college (Mid-to-late 1970s, when the drinking age for beer & wine was 18), I preferred quality over quantity. As you well know, we barely had craft brewing in those days. But the best liquor stories in Illinois college towns & in the Chicago suburbs were well-stocked with foreign brews. I quickly discovered Pilsner Urquell from then-Czechoslovakia; San Miguel Dark from the Philippines; Lion Stout from Sri Lanka; and French & Belgian beers. And being in the Midwest, we could access beers from some of the smaller Wisconsin breweries at the time, such as Point Special from the Stevens Point Brewery.

Of course, for the fraternity masses, Coors enjoyed undeserved, incredible, mystique. Someone from a frat would visit the Rockies over spring break; come back with cases of Coors, and raffle off 6-packs! (Actually, if one was going to indulge in such light lager from the West, I preferred Olympia!)

Today... I do recall stories about beer sales from the multinational conglomerates flattening out -- or even dropping -- while sales of craft brews have shown gains, even during the recession.

Agreed, the big brewers have noticed and are trying to move in on the craft brewers, beginning with Molson--Coors' Blue Moon beers (which I must admit, are far superior to any specialty brews I've tried from Anheuser-Busch/In Bev).

I also agree with your Red State/Blue State observation, to an extent.

When in Florida this past August, I found it almost impossible to find any real craft beers or unusual niche imports, even in Key West (which, of course, draws so many folks from the North).

Yet, I did find some craft brewery product in the Carolinas, even from Carolina breweries.

Allan Loudell

Fri, May 3, 2013 9:54am
Many of Delaware's liquor stores keep an OK selection of craft, imported and regional beers. Maybe pressure of competition from Pennsylvania's big "beer distributor" stores just over the line. Still the selection is often, at best, OK. And across the line, you usually have to buy a whole case to try something.

When sales are a huge base number, you're not going to show much of a growth percentage (even when you sell a much larger number of cases and six packs). A small brewery gets a spike in sales and the percentage looks impressive.

My theory: Most people who drink MSB (mainstream beer) don't really like beer. Unlike Brits and Europeans, they drink it too cold, so they can't taste it. They favor beers with a less pronounced taste. They buy brand-image.

Sounds like you go to some trouble to discover beer off the beaten path. Most people don't. They buy the familiar name or they buy what's on sale.

I still wasn't legal but I remember when we got Bud from St. Louis. Then they started opening up other breweries in places like Newark, NJ and it wasn't the same. Now they make Rolling Rock in Newark, too. I guess most people don't notice the difference. Water is supposed to be important to the taste of beer, but Jersey water??? Turnpike and oil refinery run-off???

I was getting rid of some old books and came across an old beer book from the '70s. Sad to say, all the highly-regarded regional brands and breweries from the region that aren't around any more. Even some more recent entries that wom GABF awards have been discontinued.

No state is all-blue or all-red, no matter how much you media types paint the map that way. North Carolina has Chapel Hill and the Research Triangle area, plus coastal and island areas.

Ironically, where beer is more available, long-tail brands become less available. Florida allows beer sales in supermarkets, convenience stores and even gas station mini-marts. Places like that tend to stock only top brands of any type of product and so micro-brews get left out. (It's also scary to think of people down there filling up with gas and beer in one stop and hitting the road.)

Key West attracts a large contingent of gay visitors from "up North" so maybe that would be a better place to shop for wines.

Allan Loudell
Fri, May 3, 2013 10:07am
The biggest two or three liquor stores in Delaware DO offer fairly good selection...

But I notice - when I go to Ocean City, Maryland - I can pick up brews I never see in Delaware. Like San Miguel DARK.

Also, probably because some younger people from eastern/central Europe work & live in Ocean City over the summer, LOTS of brands from Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and the Czech Republic.

Sure, you're obviously correct, the Research Triangle in North Carolina is an island of blue. (Although I found some craft brews in "red" areas!)

At the time Germany's Lowenbrau was shifting from German to U.S. brewing of its flagship brand, a college friend (who happened to work at our student-run, commercial, college radio station, and whose father owned a liquor store at which he worked over the summers!) brought six-packs of both kinds to a party at my house. We put on blindfolds, and about six of us sampled BOTH Lowenbraus. ALL of us noticed the difference, and pronounced the U.S.-brewed version inferior. (That said, I always found Swiss Lowenbrau Dark even better!) Now owned by In Bev, Lowenbrau is NOT a beer I would even seek out anymore. (It also seems to be less commonly available than in the 1970's!)

What is it about the U.S. and inferior quality? Just like Hershey/Canada bars are richer, superior to Hershey bars for the U.S. market?

I think you're also onto something with your supermarket observation, but Illinois (at least, Chicago suburbs and college towns) may prove the exception. Even smaller liquor stores are loaded with craft brews and more uncommon imports; and supermarkets carry at least some craft brews and imports!

Allan Loudell

Fri, May 3, 2013 10:07am
I really dig trying out various craft beers (especially the stronger dark stouts) but still prefer my beers chilly rather than warm.

Allan Loudell
Fri, May 3, 2013 10:15am
Mr. Grey---

There is an "in between" range for temperatures!

Allan Loudell

Fri, May 3, 2013 11:11am
Yep, but I like my beer best from a thick glass mug that's pre-chilled ;) (I'm also a fan of Coke Slurpees)

Mon, May 6, 2013 1:49pm
First there is a valid reason Delaware's selection of craft beers is not extensive. In order to sell beer in Delaware one must pay $1000 if one is to sell more than 200 cases. So if a shop asks you to bring in a keg of some special beer, it will first cost you $1000 to do so. Meaning if one was making $5 profit per case, at the selling of the 200th case, you would have just broken even. Obviously only those companies with a valid distribution system could be willing to do that. Delaware is small in population. Therefore one could do the similar fee in Maryland, PA, and NJ and could possibly make more than enough to stock ones beer.

I noticed Heileman's Old Style from, La Crosse, Wisconsin was missing from Allan's otherwise all-encompassing list of college-imbibed brews of the 70's. That used to be the "cheap" alternative to good beer since it was better than most, but cheaper than the top. You also didn't mention Schmidts, which at that time was one of the big three. It didn't taste that good, and is gone now.

Allan's reminiscences brought back memories. I can definitely remember the shifting of Lowenbrau from a good beer to a disappointing one. At the time our group did not know the reason. Another shift occurred involving Fosters about the same time. It got moved to Canada under contract from Labatts and the oil cans were simply beer, and not the awesomely amazing phenomenon of before. I think I never bought another... Again it took a while to figure out the difference, only later we found out it was no longer Australian.

As for Allan's question? The US is more-profit hungry (not all bad)than are Canadians. We are also a country of Wal*Mart where if you want chocolate, you go to get chocolate, not to share in a heavenly experience. I think the Canadians have so much more time to savor life, as do Europeans, and therefore their lives ARE better.

Allan Loudell
Mon, May 6, 2013 3:57pm

You're certainly right about Heileman's -- Both Old Style and Special Export!

Allan Loudell

Tue, May 7, 2013 2:38am
Oh wow... I totally forgot about Special Export... yes in the green bottle.

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