By Brian Franceschelli
A man appears on screen and asks, “Hey ladies, enjoying the film?”, and the answers his own question by adding, “Of course not.” (Dr Pepper TEN action commercial) He proceeds to speak about Dr Pepper’s new product, Dr Pepper Ten. Targeted to sell their new product to the male portion of their usual demographics, this commercial is full of masculine symbols and the like. To get their point across in a bit more blunt a fashion, ads like these contain the phrase “Not for Women”. Psychologically, all this presents the idea or concept that Dr Pepper’s new product will enhance its consumer’s masculinity, all while costing the consumer, only ten of their precious daily calories. Additionally, there was the subtle message that the men drinking this soda wouldn’t have to worry about drinking this soda (“their” soda, if Dr Pepper’s ad worked) alongside women thanks to that “not for women” line– meaning there would be no competition from women, something that subconsciously appealed to many men.
There was obviously controversy over the exclusion of women from this product’s demographic, however it is believed that this was done in order to further target the male demographic of Dr Pepper’s usual consumers. Among most American men, and among men worldwide, drinking diet soda as well as dieting, the overarching theme it associates with, has a feminine connotation. No doubt that ever since people have been eating food, people have been dieting – men and women alike. Up until recently in American culture, women were primarily the faces and obvious consumers of diets and dieting. It was something that men, especially the stereotypical “manly man” never did. They worked out, ate what they ate and it all worked out for them. In reality, men dieted, just not the way women did, and especially not with the openness that women dieted. This led to dieting being ostracized from the masculine image, making selling diet soda to men increasingly harder. Any open association to dieting was a complete turn off for men – it is simply hardwired into our psychology. A more subtle approach had to be taken, the pitch to men had to be made with a certain finesse, rather than just saying “This new soda with only ten calories is obviously a diet version of our regular soda and men should drink it.” At the same time, men can be blunt and in order to make sure that they got their point across, Dr Pepper hammered their point home with the line “It’s not for Women”. This line, in addition to the masculine themes presented in the commercial along with other themes that appeal to most stereotypical men (i.e. – action, explosions, physical fights, gun fights, car chases, etc.) sealed the deal. Finally, after showing this commercial and others like it, diet soda’s sales among men began to rise, and companies like Dr Pepper profited.
It should be noted that though the commercial stated that their product was “not for women”, there was nothing in place to stop women from consuming the product through purchase, or consumption. That phrase was used solely in an attempt to prompt men’s purchase of said product. It should also be noted that other companies have tried, and succeeded in getting men to consume their product, most notably Coca-Cola in the case of their Coke Zero product. Coke Zero is by no means the only brand to succeed – others include, but are not limited to Pepsi Max and Sprite Zero. Finally, I would like to emphasise that the aforementioned products have no corporate relation to Dr Pepper’s new Dr Pepper Ten brand, as Coke and Sprite’s parent company is Coca-Cola, Pepsi’s parent company is Pepsi-Cola, and Dr Pepper’s parent company is Dr Pepper Snapple.
(Read more about Dr Pepper’s corporate history Here.)