Dr. Pepper’s Marketing Fails Taste Test

When you think of companies making big PR mistakes, what comes to mind? BP’s initial handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill? Motrin and their baby-wearing mom ads? Well, most recently it’s been the popular soft drink brand Dr. Pepper.

In early October, Dr. Pepper introduced their newest product, Dr. Pepper Ten. Now, the fact that Dr. Pepper released a new, low-calorie beverage is not exciting in and of itself. And maybe that’s why they decided to make a bold advertising move (and what I believe to be a HUGE PR mistake) by specifically marketing this product to men only. However, it’s not just that they targeted only men, but the fact that they acted, in my opinion, extremely sexist in the process. Let’s take a look at the commercial for this new, manly drink:


If I try really hard, I suppose I can understand why Dr. Pepper was trying to break away from typical diet products, which are usually more well received by women. However, I cannot for the life of me understand what kind of public relations practitioner would have thought that painting women as the weaker, less capable sex was a good idea.

This commercial was not only ill received by me, but many bloggers and vloggers but even Ellen DeGeneres had something to say about Dr. Pepper’s new ad.

Lisa Barone, blogger for Ragan Communications said in response to the Dr. Pepper campaign that, “If there’s one thing I wish brands could learn, it’s that you can be polarizing and still be intelligent. You can be clever without pandering to the lowest common denominator of men — or women. You can be edgy without being an idiot.”

I couldn’t agree more. I think Dr. Pepper’s move was idiotic, and what they thought clever was, in my opinion, offensive and pointless.

What do you think? Do you like the Dr. Pepper ad? Why or why not? Do you think their ad was a marketing success or a PR disaster?

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4 Responses to Dr. Pepper’s Marketing Fails Taste Test

  1. smwillar says:

    I think it’s pretty hard to have any positive comments about Dr. Pepper’s new campaign, especially after hearing Ellen make fun of it. It was a bold decision for Dr. Pepper to single out men as the only sex whom enjoy “manly” things like action movies. When Ellen stated that it was unwise to piss off the person in the household who normally does the shopping for the family, I was thinking the same thing! However, I could see what Dr. Pepper was going for with the commercial. Make it funny enough that men will agree and women won’t be able to help laughing, but it really wasn’t all that funny. And what is a girly drink anyway? I know plenty of men who prefer the taste of diet soda, if that’s what the advertisement meant. I definitely agree that this was a huge PR blunder.

  2. rsutherl says:

    Well, you’re not going to like my answer…I think it was perfectly calculated. And totally offensive. Can we really blame a company these days for trying to stand out from the noise? I don’t honestly believe that this was an earnestly male-centric campaign. I doubt the people at Dr. Pepper didn’t anticipate the backlash. I think they courted it. It made it to Textifying, so obviously it’s a hot topic! Dr. Pepper caused a stir and I’d be shocked if their people didn’t anticipate it, if not intend it.

  3. abwolfe says:

    Any ad campaign that purposely excludes one sex from their marketing (outside of products that only apply to one sex) is doomed to fail. A diet soda “for men” is about as useful as selling dresses and nightgowns. A manly diet drink is an oxymoron. By approving this marketing campaign, Dr. Pepper only reinforced the stereotype that men shouldn’t drink regular diet drinks because they’re girly. It was an unintelligent and overall ineffective ad campaign that I would be surprised by its continuation. It did get them press coverage, but did it help sales?

  4. lworthin says:

    WHAT a disaster! It is obvious that Dr. Pepper was trying to influence men into becoming more accepting of the idea of “diet” but their execution of it was inconsiderate and poor. Did they not test this commercial before release? Compare this to something like the “Mike’s Hard Lemonade” commercials:


    They transformed a drink that is normally seen as something “girly” into something more masculine, without offending the opposite sex. I see what Dr. Pepper was going for, but they just really overdid it. I agree completely with Ellen when she said “Do you really want to offend the one buying the groceries?” I’m not one to normally get offended by sexist commercials but this one just rubs me the wrong way. Bad choice Dr. Pepper. Try again.

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