I was watching football on Sunday when a commercial came on that really got my attention, but not in a good way like those delightful Geico ads with the British lizard. (Isn’t he just a treat!?!) It was for Dr Pepper’s newest drink, Dr Pepper Ten, which is a 10-calorie version of their classic soda. This latest product, though, is targeted only to men, with the offensive slogan of “It’s not for women.” I just couldn’t wrap my head around an ad campaign that was specifically targeting a market to say, you can’t have this. Obviously, I’m no dummy. I know that they are pandering for negative attention to help promote their oh-so-manly diet soda. And by writing this, I might even be playing right into their hands. But it’s worth it to hopefully convince people that maybe they don’t need to support a company that’s so blase about basically saying, “Yeah, women are the worst!” But I guess more power to you, Dr Pepper. Keep striving to break through that glass ceiling that’s been holding men back for centuries!
Now, before I continue this rant against one of the most sexist campaigns I’ve laid eyes on, I’d like to address some concerns the readers might have about me as they peruse this article. No, I was not dumped recently, it’s not that time of the month, I’m not listening to Ani DiFranco, I didn’t get passed over for a promotion for a less qualified man, I’m not on a juice fast and I don’t need a hug. I’m just a woman who is very upset by a company that is going out of its way to put females down in order to sell a product. A product, by the way, that claims to be uber-masculine because it’s not diet. Apparently, ten calories is all it takes to make this drink suitable for the toughest of dudes. Because nothing screams ‘manly men’ like limiting your caloric intake.
The commercial (which can be seen on their website) starts off as if you’re watching an action film. The ‘hero’ says, “Hey ladies, enjoying the film? Of course not – because this is our movie!” It then ends with, “So you can keep the romantic comedies and lady drinks, we’re good.” So, I suppose the whole point of this thing is for men to see that they can have something that is just for them. Isn’t that what scratching your junk in public is for? This brilliant advertising campaign reaches beyond television, with their smug Facebook page, which also claims to be for men only. “Welcome gentlemen, to the manliest tab of Facebook. A lady-free zone of rugged, macho, hair-on-your-chest awesomeness that’s definitely not for women.” All that machismo AND only ten calories? I stand corrected.
Dr Pepper isn’t the first beverage to target itself toward a specific gender and it certainly won’t be the last. There are plenty of energy drinks, among others, that are in pink cans and claim to be beneficial to women in some way, and I’m not a big fan of those either (although the pink tabs from the can make such adorable earrings). However, I’ve never seen a single ad for any of those beverages that put men down and play into ridiculous stereotypes (and there are plenty) in order to sell their product. I feel like as the parent company, the Dr Pepper Snapple Group should work a little harder to be creative without insult, not just watch old episodes of VH1’s The Pickup Artist and call it an ad campaign. If they were targeting their brand to a specific ethnicity, would they use racist slurs against another ethnicity to do it? Probably not. So why is this okay?
I get that the point of advertising is to try and to speak to a specific audience. Men don’t like the idea of drinking a diet soda? Fine by me, but come on. I think the execs at Big Soda who came up with this one could have tried a little harder. I also understand that part of their advertising campaign is to rile people like me. I acknowledge that by addressing this issue I’m giving them free publicity, but it needs to be addressed. Maybe it’s the worst kind of negging though. Maybe they want me to see that ad, and say, “Hey! I’m a woman and I’m offended. I can enjoy that soda as much as any man can. Just let them try and stop me!” Well, they can keep their ten-calorie testosterone driven soda. Water is my drink of choice anyway. Good, old-fashioned, non-sexist water.
Photo via Forbes.com