retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Lots of reaction to Kate McMahon’s column yesterday, which criticized Dr Pepper for its introduction of Dr Pepper Ten as a “for men only” drink ... suggesting that perhaps it was misguided to be condescending to women, who still do most of the shopping. Besides, she said, the commercials aren’t funny: “When the joke is sexist, demeaning, offensive or part of a lame marketing strategy ... that falls as flat as day-old soda,” she wrote.

MNB user Larry Lyons wrote:

Really ladies!? Lighten up! It’s a commercial.

Guys are constantly portrayed as browbeat, hen-pecked husbands, buffoons in the eyes of their children, intellectually inferior to women.

The DP marketing guys got our attention…hats off to them.


Another MNB user wrote:

So – we have grown men in football uniforms wearing pink for breast cancer awareness. (Who is not aware of breast cancer?)

I don’t see the WNBA players wearing special colors to make people “aware” of prostate cancer.

Women with hyphenated names. One name is not enough??

This is the most emasculated place in the world. My goodness gracious… really? BIG deal – who cares if Dr. Pepper wants to advertise to men. So what if you don’t think it is funny…. It is hardly sexist… It is a benign commercial – but once again we have to justify ourselves for being men. PLEASE.

Now you are taking my time away from curling my hair and painting my nails so I can respond to this dribble.

Take all of the PC and put it where it belongs -  in a cave where us men live.

Unbelievable.


From another MNB user:

The campaign got you to write about it…got Ellen to talk about it on national television…seems like Dr. P got what they wanted – attention to a declining brand.  And the Old Spice commercial you referenced – entertaining and titillating, I’m sure for many female viewers – but it didn’t work for Old Spice – created buzz, but didn’t drive sales.  This won’t either.  Just create some interest in shelf space customers have been ignoring.  Overall, soft drink sales are declining for all brands…desperate times give us a real panacea of marketing moves.

And, from another reader:

Loosen up a bit.  Why can't anyone have a little fun anymore?  Why does everyone think the world revolves around them and everything, including silly marketing ads, has to be targeted to the entire population as opposed to a small segment?

One MNB user had a very good idea:

I think Dr. Pepper should come out with a female version of the diet drink , advertise, and have a Superbowl competition against the two (similar to Bud and Bud Lite in past years) and let the winner be based on the highest sales of the two between now and the Super Bowl - would be a great sales promotion and way for women to retaliate.

From MNB user Sally LeBoeuf:

I agree with you! I have watched the commercial several times and at first could not believe what I saw. Joke?? I don't think so. Down with the Dr.

MNB user John Thomas Finnegan chimed in:

I've been a long time reader of MNB and enjoy your columns very much. I wanted to respond to your article regarding Dr. Pepper 10. My take on the whole 'Not For Women' marketing campaign is that given that Dr. Pepper is late to the manly diet pop game(See Coke Zero, Pepsi Max, etc...) DP had to do something to differentiate themselves from the pack. Which in this case meant, taking it up a notch in shock and awe factor.

It would be one thing if they came out with a realistic ad that visually and verbally disenfranchised but the ads i've seen are centered around ultra masculinity. It is my belief that in doing so, they are trying to set a precedent that says "we don't take ourselves too seriously and neither should you"... and that is why i believe they are able to get away with it... BUT you were spot on in stating that whichever way the campaign is interpreted it has created buzz.


And another MNB user asked:

Kate, can we safely assume that you didn’t go out & buy a freezer full of Schweddy Balls Ice Cream?

Good question. Kate responds:

I'm not completely humorless! I got a big laugh out of Schweddy Balls on SNL and as an ice cream flavor, but prefer Half-Baked in my freezer.

Kate’s perfectly capable of defending herself, but let me chime in here for a moment.

I’ve known Kate a long time, and she’s anything but humorless or prurient. And I don’t think her column was, either.

She wasn’t suggesting that products should not be targeted at men or women. Far from it. What she was suggesting was that lowest common denominator ads that seek to marginalize or condescend to an entire group of people - in this case, women - may not be the smartest idea in the world.

The “Schweddy Balls” ice cream wasn’t meant to demean anyone.

And for the record, I’m a guy ... and while I wasn’t overly bothered by the Dr Pepper Ten ads, I did find their portrayal of what men are and like to be fairly insulting. So I’m with Kate on this one.
KC's View: