Meanwhile, inside Dr Pepper's lair ...

October 11, 2011|By Ernest Wilkins, RedEye

Wow! Who knew America could get so hard core about a soft drink.

Unless you missed it, let me fill you in. Dr Pepper launched an ad campaign this week for its new diet drink, Dr Pepper Ten, and the whole thing's been about as well-received as Crystal Pepsi. The public outcry isn't over the product—which is only 10 calories!—but for the all-male everything approach to the ads, which feature aliens and G.I. Joe-style laser guns and the super-subtle tagline "It's not for women." There's even a companion Facebook app that allows users to exclude women.

Now, the easy reaction would be to completely decimate the campaign for being misogynistic, but you know what? No. I'm not falling for that bait, and neither should you. All the press (OK, I'm guilty) and the angry posts on the company's Facebook wall—this is exactly what some marketing schmo was hoping for.

Here is how I imagine this whole thing went down.

President: We're happy to have you ad folks here today. We need a real winner.

Ad guy: Well, what's the problem?

Prez: We're getting absolutely whomped by when it comes to diet drinks. We need to strategize initial brand sponsor-lutions for optimum growth valuations.

Ad guy: Huh?

Vice president: Sorry, we just got back from a conference. He's been using business terms in random combinations.

Ad guy: OK, then. Well, we did some focus group research and we think Dr Pepper is lacking in one key category: Idiots.

Prez: I'm listening ...

Ad guy: Here's the thing. We've seen time and time again that all you have to do is call something "diet" and people will buy it. Also, all it takes to get someone talking about your product is to infer that it's not for everyone. What if we combined those and marketed that to an absolute lowest common denominator?

VP: Idiots?

Ad guy: Idiots. We'll … um … we'll say it's a drink for men! Yeah, that's it. It's for manly men who have beards and camp and don't emote.

Prez: YES! Then we can completely ignore women, which will really piss them off—and maybe even want it more. And we can be all like, "Nyaah nyaah, girls can't have this!"

VP: Amazing! We'll make it super-exclusive and elite. It's a diet pop for men who like to be manly!

Ad guy: Exactly. Make some vague references to what it means to be a "real man" and design the can like a bomb from "Halo"!

Prez: This is why they pay us the big bucks, people. Before we get started, let's drum up some stats about how women "don't care" that we're excluding them!

VP: Good idea, so that way we cover our butts in case any misogynist idiot wants to defend us.

Ad guy: We'll get started right away!

Prez: Wonderful. Now that we've tackled that, how can we ostracize other groups? Do Samoans drink soda?

"360">ERNEST WILKINS IS CHICAGO'S WINGMAN. @REMIXCHICAGO

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