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Oct 11 2011

Dr. Pepper Ten: too ridiculous for words.

The makers of Dr. Pepper were facing a difficult proposition: how do you create a diet soda that appeals to men? Their answer was, naturally, to ramp the stupidity of their ad campaign up so hard it wraps all the way through misogyny and misandry back around to AWESOME. Of course, that was their plan, anyway. They just landed in “worst idea ever” territory instead.

This makes me want to shoot lasers in a jungle full of snakes! Snakes whose heads explode when you punch them!

You wonder why I think gender roles need to be purged from the collective consciousness? It’s because of bullshit like this. I can’t tell if it’s supposed to be a parody of super-machismo ideals, or an actual attempt at alienating half their potential customer base, or what. Their Facebook app is apparently available only to men, though, so I can’t get behind the idea that there were any females on the advertising team that came up with the idea. This divvying up of food into “chick food” and “man food” is ridiculous enough on its own, but diet pop is somehow “for wimminz”? Really?

I guess all you have to do is scream “IT’S NOT FOR WOMEN” at the end of your ad and you’ll capture that all-important men-who-think-diet-pop-is-girly demographic.

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  1. 1
    VeritasKnight

    I drink diet pop. Does this make me a wimminz? Should I be concerned about gender roles?

    Oh, no surprise though. Gender stereotypes around food are probably one of the more common stereotypes – and least challenged. You could write a library of papers on the commercials viewed during one hockey game vs. one figure skating competition.

  2. 2
    feralboy12

    You’ve come a long way, baby
    To get where you’ve got to today
    You got your own diet soda that tastes like cough syrup
    You’ve come a long, long way!

    Yes, I am old enough to remember the Virginia Slims commercial.

  3. 3
    William Brinkman

    In the US, we have the “Man Up” ads for lite beer. We also have “Last Man Standing,” where Tim Allan slams other men for not being manly enough. Now this. Is open misogyny making a comeback?

  4. 4
    'Tis Himself

    Thanks for that commercial, Dr. Pepper. You’ve given me another reason, besides your drink’s disgusting taste and overwhelming sweetness, to boycott your products.

  5. 5
    becca

    No way man. Best commercial ever. I’m totes going to start drinking that.

  6. 6
    Jason Thibeault

    But but but it’s literally just Diet Dr. Pepper with a shitty new ad campaign! Gah! Don’t do it Becca! You’ll just reward them for reverse psychology or double secret reverse psychology or whatever the hell this is supposed to be.

  7. 7
    evilDoug

    Oh, Jebus! Are you too young to remember Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche?

  8. 8
    Aliasalpha

    If I had to guess, I’d say this was an attempted parody, possibly inspired by the kevin butler playstation ads. It seems to have the same desire to make something over the top & silly whilst telling you its over the top & silly. Just such a shame they didn’t manage to make something funny

  9. 9
    Jason Thibeault

    evilDoug@7: Sadly, yes, I’m too young for that. I was 3 when it came out. I’ll pick it up if I see it but I’m not seeking it out… sounds like “The Alphabet of Manliness” for people who like whole words.

    Aliasalpha@8: Yeah, the only line I thought was remotely clever was “Catchphrase!” And even that, I suspect I’ve seen someplace before.

  10. 10
    Jadehawk

    I’d link to my post on chick-food again, but that has gotten quite a bit of exposure here already, anyway.

    That sort of misogyny is pretty common though. Sociological Images has a large collection of ad-campaigns that went completely overboard when trying to de-girlify assorted products to sell them to men.

  11. 11
    Jason Thibeault

    Pssh. It deserves one more.

  12. 12
    Henry

    Splitting foods between predefined gender roles isn’t anything new. Yorkie choclate bars have had “It’s not for girls” as a slogan for years, and diet coke ads have been aimed exclusively at heterosexual women for as long as I can remember (one ad being three ladies deliberately stopping an elevator so that the impressively ab endowed maintenance guy would have to come and rescue them). I could probably give you a list of the major choclate brands in the UK and break them down into the “gender” the makers have given them.

    The current malteser adverts as an example are incredibly subtle at persuading the viewer that they are for women. The tag line “The lighter way to enjoy chocolate” playing on the constant idealism of women losing wieght and counting callories, thus immeadiatly allienating most men. I don’t think the marketers are bothered at all about that.

    I’m not saying I approve, but in this respect the diet dr pepper ad doesn’t stand out as any more or less rediculous than anything else out there at the moment. From an advertising point of view it makes perfect sense. If coke have dominated the female market for diet drinks, dr p can try to claim the male market.

    A good advertiser is capable of creating a niche or stereotype and then convincing the consumer to believe that they are putting themselves in that role of their own freewill. Targetting consumers by gender is only one trick. Other advertisers target based on age, class, ethincity, education, sexuality, amongst many other factors.
    In this respect it’s not just misogyny that annoys the crap out of me in advertising, it’s all those little tricks – and the dumb ass public who swallow them up, and then repeat them.

  13. 13
    Tom

    I think ironic humour (british spelling) is not so well understood in the U.S. Over in the UK, a candy manufacturer ran an advert for a chunky chocolate bar called Yorkie with the tagline “Its not for girls”.

    It was SO preposterous that everyone knew it was meant tongue-in-cheek and it raised a smile with just about everyone, men and women. To have objected to it would have made one look a bit foolish and lacking in post-modern ironic ‘cred’. It’s purpose was to get the product some attention and it worked, but I don’t think anyone was seriously upset by it.

    Likewise, the Doctor Pepper advert is so (deliberately) over-the-top ridiculous that you would have to have a sense of humour deficiency not to get the joke. I very much doubt it is meant to be taken at face value. And hey, its got everyone here aware that Dr Pepper have announced a new product so good work from the advertising people there.

  14. 14
    Tom

    My apologies. I wrote U.S. when I should have said Canada. But hey, same thing isn’t it? (ducks and runs)

  15. 15
    Daniel Fincke

    I don’t know, it looks like a satire of gender stereotypes and of the ludicrous lengths you have to go through to overcome them, to me. It’s not as funny as it wants to be and it weakly rips off the “Catchphrase!” joke from what is possibly my favorite YouTube video ever—the one satirizing “every movie trailer ever”. But I don’t see anything worth getting offended or upset over here.

    It does raise the larger question though of whether you can simultaneously make an appeal that tries to play off the way people think while also casting it that you are only appealing to this mindset ironically. Is this a way for advertizers to have their cake and eat it too? Does it work? Is the irony inevitably lost and does it just become a straight up reinforcement of the norm? Or does it function where those who believe in the norm see it as a simple joke that doesn’t question the norm at all, while those who grasp the irony feel pleased to see something meta.

    Of course, in this case in this thread, I might be the only one from the intended irony audience who seems to be settling for the meta.

  16. 16
    Jadehawk

    i’d buy it as satire if it weren’t for the bog-standard gender-stereotyping and “manning up” of their products on their site and on facebook.

    the ad is not satire, the ad is “it was just a joke, you [insert social activist here]s have no sense of humor” AKA “haha but for real”

  17. 17
    Jadehawk

    for proper satire of “manning up” products, see the Old Spice commercials with Isaiah Mustafa

  18. 18
    Glodson

    Yea, I thought the whole Dr Pepper Ten thing was stupid from the outset. I mean, why are you marketing a soda to 50% of the population? That’s just moronic. The only thing I can imagine is that they were going for a campy message. Or something.

    Hell, it is a fucking diet soda too. Men drink them. Women drink them. Why not just market it to everyone? Nah, that makes sense. It is almost like they want the goddamn thing to fail.

  19. 19
    martha

    Gender is so much fun to talk about, as long as no one’s trying to poke a stick in anyone else’s eye. It was fun when I was a preschooler and my brother and I tried to distinguish the ‘girl’ numerals from the ‘boy’ numerals. It was fun all throuh those earnest 20-something discussion about how guys think and how women think. I can see an advertiser wanting to recruit that energy and attention, but I wonder if there isn’t a way to do it that doesn’t pigeon hole their product as being ‘only’ for men or women.

  20. 20
    sinned34

    I’m a guy who gave up sugary sodas and started drinking diet soda pop to lose weight. After losing 40 lbs, I then stopped consuming diet pop and began brewing homemade beer instead. I love my stouts and dark ales, but I’d start brewing “girly” lagers in a second if I could afford a lagering cabinet.

    I generally eat meat at every meal, but I enjoy Silhouette 0+ yogurt from Danone as a snack.

    If only someone could tell me if I’m masculine enough to deserve to keep the penis I was born with!

  21. 21
    Stephanie Zvan

    Hang onto it, Sinned! Don’t let anyone take it away from you!

  22. 22
    sinned34

    Stephanie, I’ve heard that it falls off if you don’t eat enough manly food, which is why I’m worried.

    Incidentally, does Greek salad qualify as a “guy” food? I’m confused because it’s little more than vegetables, oil, vinegar, and cheese, which doesn’t seem overly masculine. However, the Spartans in the movie 300 likely had to eat a lot of it to stay trim enough to show off their 8-pack abs. Mind you, that movie showed off a lot of naked male torsos, enough to make me wonder if I should have been allowed to like it. Maybe the gratuitous violence makes up for all the naked beefcake?

    I didn’t realize maintaining a manly image would be such difficult work. It’s a good thing we have helpful corporations to inform us on what we need to purchase in order to make everyone around us certain of our strong heterosexuality!

  23. 23
    Stephanie Zvan

    Dude, if that salad doesn’t have enormous olives, you’re doomed.

  24. 24
    rob

    sinned:

    a friend of mine (a man!) brewed lager. he used an old refrigerator and a cheap temperature controller. worked great! and the beer tasted good too!

    p.s. you penis comment reminded me of King Missle’s “Detachable Penis.”

    it’s here:

  25. 25
    sinned34

    Stephanie,

    Wait, what are the olives supposed to signify? If the answer is what I think it is, doesn’t eating those defeat the attempt to look manly and therefore heterosexual?

    This is the opposite of helping!

    Rob:

    I’m planning on building a little enclosure in which to put a used six foot freezer with a temperature controller on it. However, since lumber ain’t exactly cheap right now, it’ll have to wait until next summer. Then, a nice Munich dark lager is going to be the first beverage out of it!

  26. 26
    sinned34

    Dude, how did you get that video to embed? Mine didn’t work…

  27. 27
    Jadehawk

    lagers are girly?

    *sigh*

    SO much stuff to keep track of, no wonder the economy tanked; no one has time to work anymore, we all have to categorize every individual food-item by gender

    :-p

  28. 28
    Strategically Shaved Monkey

    Dr Pepper, Old Spice, Yorkie Bars? Bah! Amateurs!
    Real Men™ bought 1980′s Tennants Lager.
    http://www.cannyscot.com
    It worked on my pubescent alter ego.

  1. 29
    Dr Pepper vs the creationists | Lousy Canuck

    [...] might remember the quiet unassuming soda Dr. Pepper from its recent foray into potentially-parody toxic masculinity with its Dr Pepper Ten campaign. It appears the company has discovered that controversy is really [...]

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