Gender Benders: Dr. Pepper 10

dr-pepper-10Dr. Pepper recently introduced a new 10-calorie version of its diet drink, aimed at men. The soda can features rivets. I know. They’re not real, but still.

The company launched a Facebook app for men, called “The Ten Man-ments,” is advertising during college football games, trying to capture the man who wants a diet drink but doesn’t want to really admit that to anyone. The tagline? “It’s not for women.”

Not surprisingly, the campaign has backfired. According to Wavemetrix,  it’s generating lots of negative attention. Men say they’re okay with the positioning but agree it’s offensive and women have taken to the social media channels saying they’ll take their diet drink business elsewhere.

See the video here:

The Dr. Pepper people say that the campaign is supposed to be a joke. But no one seems to be getting it. What happened?

The difference between how Venus and Mars behave let marketers tell a compelling story.(rivets?). Conflict is at the heart of great storytelling. But brands can risk taking that conflict too far.

But what’s interesting here is how the Dr. Pepper marketing people covered their bases when talking about new soda to the press. They said that 40% of people who tried and approved of the diet drink in six test markets were women. So who is the brand really aimed at, anyway?

Well, everyone, it seems, and perhaps that’s the intention. A campaign that’s skewed to be provocative can benefit from a public relations campaign to tell the story to all possible audiences, with a wink and a nod to the targeted core. If Dr. Pepper 10 doesn’t go by the way of New Coke, I can see a phase two campaign where women bloggers are invited to an immersion in the 10-calorie Dr. Pepper experience, follow the “The Man-ments” for a month – and chart their experiences with it on their blogs. Maybe the brand sponsors a Top-Chef quick-fire that pits the guys against the gals to come up with the healthiest dish using the soda that will appeal to a duo of 10-calorie Dr. Pepper tasters (man and woman). You follow?

Oh, and for the record, I think the ad is funny. It shows men being so stupid that I, for one, can’t possibly take it seriously. Will that turn me into a Dr. Pepper 10 drinker? I don’t think so, the brand told me that it doesn’t want me, in no uncertain terms.