Monday, November 21, 2011

Dr. Pepper 10 - Attracting Men or Alienating Women?

         I’m a student in the Medill Integrated Marketing Communications Certificate program at Northwestern University.  I’ve been studying marketing for the past three years and I’ve learned great deal about what it takes to develop an outstanding campaign.  If you’re looking to market a product to a specific gender, great, there are many fantastic ways to do so—but take my advice and don’t follow in Dr. Pepper’s footsteps.

         It’s not uncommon for brands to target a specific sex, but Dr. Pepper has taken gender specific marketing to a whole new level with a campaign for Dr. Pepper 10, a 10 calorie Dr. Pepper drink with a slogan that claims “It’s not for women”.  The Dr. Pepper 10 campaign overtly eschews women with its male charged commercials and exclusive social media marketing.    One TV spot features men on an ATV in a jungle war zone movie.  One of the men on the ATV attempts to pour soda into a glass and says “hey ladies.  Enjoying the film?  Of course not, because this is our movie and this is our soda.  You can keep the romantic comedies and the lady drinks.  We’re good”.  Dr. Pepper 10 even launched a Facebook page that can only be accessed by men.

   Dr. Pepper’s campaign comes at a time when overall soda sales are slowing as people become more health conscious.  Diet sodas present a healthier alternative to regular soda, but Dr. Pepper conducted research that suggests many men refrain from drinking diet drinks because diet drinks are considered feminine.  Thus, Dr. Pepper aimed to market a diet soda that lacked a feminine stigma.  Jim Trebilcock, the executive vice president of marketing for Dr. Pepper, claimed that he had tested Dr. Pepper’s marketing in six different markets before launching the product, and that he was confident that the campaign would not offend women.  I doubt Trebilcock is quite as confident about this assertion now.

           The Dr. Pepper 10 campaign not only offended women, it also alienated an entire female customer base and gouged the company’s approval ratings.  Men and women have adamantly protested the campaign online and through social media.

           Dr. Pepper failed to thoroughly evaluate the potential consequences of such a radical campaign, and took a leap without conducting adequate research.  Dr. Pepper should have found a way to market Dr. Pepper 10 as a “manly” drink without overtly alienating women in a misogynistic manner.  Advertisements that specifically target one sex can effectively attract both sexes if they are carried out in a clever and tasteful way.  Dos Equis did a great job of targeting manly men without offending women with its “most interesting man in the world” campaign.  The “most interesting man in the world” campaign clearly had a machismo overtone, but this tone was effectively achieved without directly saying “this is a manly drink”.  Furthermore, the campaign was so clever that women even enjoyed the hilarious monologues delivered in the advertisements.

            Furthermore, advertisements that clearly convey a message without having to explicitly spell the message out are often funnier and more effective.  Dr. Pepper took the easy way out and made advertisements that flat out told everyone what the company’s objective was.  This laziness makes the ads corny and almost laughable.
            Targeting one market isn’t worthwhile if your tactics involve losing another equally valuable market.  Sometimes less is more, and companies better be damn sure that a campaign will work if they plan to use radical and potentially controversial means of communicating to a target market.


Picture sources:,r:7,s:0,r:0,s:0,r:12,s:0,r:6,s:33&tx=135&ty=76

1 comment:

  1. Way to go! Nice article and good establishing of important topics and your marketing expertise. It is an important topic and a fun read! I like your tweet as well. Good job