Men, Be a Pepper! Be a Slimmer, More Manly Pepper!


Want to get your brand some notice? Start a gender war. That’ll get you noticed.

That seems to be the tactic Dr Pepper Snapple Group is taking with its latest product, Dr Pepper Ten. The idea behind the drink, revealed earlier this year, is that men don’t generally like to be seen drinking “diet” sodas so this sugared drink will go over the top to showcase just how manly it is in order to show men that even though it has only 10 calories, that doesn’t mean they have become girly men.

The company has gone so far as to create a Facebook app (dubbed Ten Man’ments) for the soda that invites “men only” to check out content such as a shooting-gallery game in which players aim at lipstick and high heels. It Facebook tab is being promoted with the tagline, “Gendergated, just for guys.” You can imagine how that’s gone down.[more]

So let’s recap the brand’s marketers’ thinking here: if men don’t want to be seen hoisting a diet beverage, let’s make it it a man cave of a product, an exclusive club filled with masculine, macho experiences! The press release elaborates:

Designed specifically for men who prefer the full-flavor experience of regular Dr Pepper but want a lower-calorie option without the diet imagery, Dr Pepper TEN will feature a distinctly masculine package design, complete with a gunmetal gray color scheme, industrial rivets and bold new font.

“As one of America’s favorite and oldest soft drinks, Dr Pepper has been a beverage innovator for more than 125 years,” said Dave Fleming, director of marketing for Dr Pepper. “Men told us that they wanted a low-calorie option with the full flavor of regular Dr Pepper – and that’s exactly what we’re delivering with Dr Pepper TEN. I’d say these are the 10 hardest-working calories in the beverage business.”

Consumer feedback and research showed that many men between the ages of 25 and 34 are not completely satisfied with the taste or image of diet sodas – although they understand the need to make healthier beverage choices. Responding to this insight, Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) developed a unique blend of sweeteners to achieve a like-regular beverage experience – ultimately delivering the full flavor of original Dr Pepper with fewer calories.

Pepper fans should know that this stuff isn’t Diet Dr Pepper in a more manly can. The diet version has one calorie while this one has 10 and it also contains parts of the 23 different ingredients in the regular Pepper as well.

The first commercial for the product, as CBS puts it, features “muscular men in the jungle battling snakes and bad guys and appear to shoot lasers at each other.” One of the men says, “Hey ladies. Enjoying the film? Of course not. Because this is our movie and this is our soda. You can keep the romantic comedies and lady drinks. We’re good.”

Naturally, the media buys for the campaign are skewing toward men. CBS reports that Ten will be advertised for on all the major networks but also on FX and ESPN during college football games.

Of course, this kind of marketing won’t stop women from actually purchasing and drinking the stuff. The dollar is much larger than any gender war ever could be. In the six cities where Ten was tested, about 40% of the people who tried Ten were women.

“‘Is this really for men or really for women?’ is a way to start the conversation that can spread and get people engaged in the product,” said Jim Trebilcock, executive vice president of marketing for Dr Pepper, to CBS.

Deborah Mitchell, executive director for the Center for Brand and Product Management at the University of Wisconsin School of Business, says the introduction of gender differences is always bound to generate word of mouth. “One topic people never tire of talking or arguing about is differences between men and women, particularly if women are excluded,” she said, according to CBS. “That will always get someone’s attention.”

Earlier this year, in another ploy to convince men, fanboys and fangirls to sample its reduced-calorie beverages, Diet Dr Pepper was released in a limited edition co-branded can tied to Marvel’s Thor movie launch in May.