“It’s Not For Women.” With a slogan like that in Terminator-esque font, it’s no wonder Dr Pepper Ten has come under fire for sexist marketing.
TV ads, radio spots and a Facebook page asking “Are You Man Enough?” provoked feminist outrage when the campaign launched last October.
The soda seemed to fly under the radar for a few months, but in the last few weeks there has been a renewed radio and television push for the drink. And Seeds Marketplace has added the soda to its beverages section.
Fellow Trojans: Don’t buy the stuff, lest you reinforce the idea that sexist advertising works. Let Dr. Pepper Ten die — and let it remind other brands to think twice before excluding an entire gender.
Dr Pepper has never been one for conventional advertising. While Coca-Cola has a stranglehold on Santa Claus and polar bears and while Pepsi uses danceclub scenes to hawk its bubbly, Dr Pepper has opted for T-shirt-ready slogans, such as “Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper, too?” and claymation fairytale support groups. Going non-traditional with a gender-specific campaign like this one is yet another bold move in Dr Pepper’s marketing repertoire, but it might cost them loyal customers.
If Dr Pepper was trying to imitate the Old Spice guy, it missed by a mile. Instead of simply adopting a masculine tone, the ads specifically exclude women. It’s the Little Rascals of diet drinks: No Girls Allowed.
The commercials lay it out clearly: With Dr Pepper Ten, “You can keep the romantic comedies and lady drinks. We’re good.”
By gearing the ads so intensely toward men, Dr Pepper is reducing potential profits. The company is alienating half the soda drinking population before they even pop the tab.
Was launching Dr Pepper Ten and marketing it to an exclusively male customer-base a solid business decision? Not even close. Making minute, insignificant changes to an existing product and repackaging it will only compromise the existing market for lower calorie Dr Pepper.
You have to question why anyone saw Dr Pepper Ten as necessary in the first place. According to Dave Fleming, Dr Pepper-Snapple Group’s director of marketing, the company was responding to male consumers’ demand for “a low calorie option with the full flavor of regular Dr Pepper.”
Isn’t the entire Diet Dr Pepper campaign based on the idea that it tastes more like its forebearing full-calorie soda than any other diet drink? To produce another diet soda negates Diet Dr Pepper’s main selling point. It’s not a particularly “girly” advertising strategy, so why go so masculine?
And if the company truly believed that it is not reaching calorie-conscious men with the current Diet Dr Pepper ads, why not just try a different marketing strategy?
It’s better than blindly investing in the cost of researching, producing and marketing an entirely different soda. That is poor business.
Dr Pepper Ten appeals to one type of man. Blatant sexism aside, the ad campaign suggests that the soda is only suitable for men who like explosions, guns and car chases. I guess it isn’t for men who enjoy the occasional piña colada or episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
According to BevReview.com, the mid-calorie offering still has copious amounts of aspartame, the sweetening agent that has raised eyebrows regarding carcinogenicity. That knocks out any health-conscious people — male or female — who might have chosen Dr Pepper Ten as an alternative.
Of course, all this seems like speculation — until you take a look at Dr. Pepper’s Brand Index Buzz scores. The Brand Index scores are to consumer goods what approval ratings are to the president: They gauge customer appreciation on any given brand. At the launch of Dr Pepper Ten, Dr Pepper took an immediate hit. Within a week, their buzz score dropped five points among men and 14 points among women.
They may be the 10 hardest working calories in soda, but effort doesn’t always make up for idiocy.
Katherine Moncrief is a senior majoring in international relations.