Sexism and Soda: Dr. Pepper's New Ad Campaign a Failure



Newly released diet soda Dr. Pepper 10 has everyone in a tizzy, and it’s not because it only has 10 calories.

Recently Dr. Pepper launched a new ad campaign claiming that their new soda “is not for women.” The commercials show a rugged man running around in the jungle doing things that “all men” enjoy, such as shooting lasers, fighting bad guys, causing motorcycle collisions, and jumping into a moving jeep, all while explaining that Dr. Pepper 10 has only 10 “manly” calories.

Dr. Pepper 10’s ad is ultimately a counterproductive advertising tactic, as it offends both sexes and ostracizes buyers. This ad campaign insults men and women as it reinforces society's stereotypes of what a "real" version of a gender is. It paints women as inferior (which ostracizes a good portion of their buyers), and on another level it also paints men who don't subscribe to their portrayal of what a man is as inferior, too.

The man in the commercial could easily be described as a violent, chauvinistic idiot running around causing mayhem and I’m sure that both genders — not just men — wouldn’t like to be represented like that. The commercial implies that all men act like the man in the commercial and if they don’t, than they aren’t real men. Not subscribing to their definition of masculinity makes men. People identify as individuals, not as society’s stereotype of their gender.

Dr. Pepper’s poorly crafted attempt at tongue-and-cheek humor may attract some buyers, but overall it will only be counterproductive. Dr. Pepper’s ad campaign has infuriated both sexes and has ultimately caused their approval ratings to drop. According to Ted Marzilli, managing director and senior vice-president of BrandIndex, “Men don’t like being made to feel self-conscious about their purchases, and women don’t like being excluded, the findings indicate. ‘The campaign appears to have driven women’s perception of Dr Pepper down, which may have an adverse effect on the overall brand’s sales of a product like Diet Dr Pepper.” He also stated that “For men, Dr. Pepper’s buzz score went from 21. 5 on the day the campaign broke to 16.4. And, for women in the same period, the score started at a higher point – 32.9 – and has now sunk to 18.4, losing nearly half its score.”

In addition to feeling excluded, dedicated female consumers may feel hurt by the new ad campaign because it makes them feel unappreciated for their loyalty to the brand. The commercial states, "Hey ladies. Enjoying the film? Of course not. Because this is [a man’s] movie and this is [a man’s] soda." It’s a man’s soda? What about women who have purchased Dr. Pepper for years? Are they valued as less desirable consumers?

Similarly, as evidence in the approval ratings, consumers simply may not agree with Dr. Pepper’s blatant sexism, and won’t support a company that ostracizes certain groups of people. As far as the success of sales go in general, people don’t like feeling self-conscience about buying a product, and with all of the hullaballoo surrounding Dr. Pepper right now, it will definitely make some people uncomfortable to purchase the new drink. In addition, there has been a massive outcry to get rid of the commercials (examples include a petition against the soda and several Facebook groups protesting the drink).

Sexism in marketing seems to be unavoidable, but at least people are calling Dr. Pepper out on their offensive commercials. Hopefully these ads will show the true affects of stereotyping, and the consequences of promoting inequality. 

Photo Credit: switch-twitch