Dr. Pepper “Ten” Marketing Strategy

A classmate of mine directed me toward the Dr. Pepper “Ten” campaign, and it’s definitely an interesting review! The campaign is centered around promoting the drink to men, while the men do “manly” things like watch action movies and go on safaris.

The pros: The “Ten” campaign is an attention-getter, and it stirs up some controversy, which, as we know, makes people remember you. The commercials are obviously tongue-in-cheek, and the strategy has warranted press mentions and viral videos all over the web. I think Dr. Pepper hit the mark on getting people to talk about their new low-calorie soda.

The cons: However, once again, a company has chosen to go with stereotypes and an overly obvious message that their drink is “manly”. I don’t think this campaign has as much creativity in reality as they thought it would have during the brainstorming session. “Men being a stereotype” has been done, “men exclude women from stereotype to sell more stuff” is pretty juvenile. The premise is that men don’t want to drink “diet soda” because it’s “girly”, and yet men drink diet soda every day! There’s no inherent gender stereotype for wanting to look good, and diet drinks are always marketed as a way to indulge your taste buds without indulging your waistline. The product is not obviously geared toward men, so the advertising is a little over the top.

My take: I think determining whether this campaign is “good” depends on how you define success. Some ad agencies and PR professionals define it as the number of press mentions, video shares, or awards the campaign merits. But, as a marketer, I define success as growing sales profitably, and I’m just not sure this campaign will have that effect. Part of this, is because I think “Ten” will cannibalize market share from “Diet”, meaning that overall sales may flatline. It’s great that you got people talking, but did you get people buying? I also wonder how sticky the customers will be, as many might be willing to give “Ten” a try, but end up sticking with good ‘ole diet in the end. This seems like it could be another New Coke failure, where the original was preferred. I don’t think the controversial ad campaign will affect willingness to buy, as it’s obviously meant as a joke, with a pointed message that they are distinctly trying to get men to buy the product. They don’t mean to say that Dr. Pepper is not for woman, but rather, women already have a product from the company, so now, they’re making sure men have one too. Equality, right? 🙂 In short, I’ll be interested to see how “Ten” fares in the market, but my guess is that it won’t make quite the mark that the ad execs intended.

What’s your take on “Ten”?

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