Culture

Dr. Pepper’s war on men

dr pepper ten

By now you’ve seen those Dr. Pepper Ten commercials, with the slogan “It’s not for Women.” If that sounds familiar, it’s because “It’s not for Women” has been the slogan for the GOP for years. (Zing! I know, too easy, but true.) But I’m not here to talk about the blatant sexism and the war on women being waged by government, religion and culture in this country. While I have an opinion on the subject, throwing another male voice into the mix would just add another sausage to the sausage party. And no one likes a sausage party, unless they’re eating sausage. I’m here to talk about Dr. Pepper’s war on men. What? Let me explain.

They might say Dr. Pepper Ten isn’t for women, but their construction of what a male should be is wrong. The over-the-top masculinity featured in the commercials is just a negative stereotype of men. Yeah, there are a lot of bad role models for men out there, but Dr. Pepper Ten has taken 23 of the worst and crammed them into a straight-to-DVD ripoff of the Old Spice commercials. Those were funny, but these aren’t. The commercials feature a slew of manly role models doing manly things: using tools, using weapons and riding robot sharks. Those are some pretty macho activities, but nothing women couldn’t do, except for a catchphrase like “It’s not for Women.” What a great catchphrase. Put off half the population in the hopes that the other half bails you out. Makes sense. Sometimes, when one of my legs falls asleep, I rely on my one good leg (the male one probably) to walk. It doesn’t work, but why stop trying.

“It’s not for Women” is the grown up version of the “No Girls Allowed” sign you misspelled and hung in your tree house, where you played with your best friend until you hit puberty and discovered his hot sister. Then that sign came down and you started spending way too much time over at his house. This raises some questions: Why is Dr. Pepper Ten being marketed as an anti-cootie drink? Was the subtle approach not enough? Did they have to go total-douchebag? What’s the difference between a diet drink for men compared to one for women? Is the word diet so strongly associated with women in this country that we can’t use it for men? Yes, which is why Dr. Pepper Ten is not called a diet drink. Were other diet drinks always made for women?

In Dr. Pepper’s attempt at playing the macho card, they forgot two important lessons: what’s macho now is lame later, and what’s macho to you might not be macho to someone else. Like, why should men drink a diet drink? Here’s the real campaign: “Man the fuck up and drink regular, you little bitch.”What kind of guy drinks diet? Not a real man, that’s for sure. Ten calories? Guys need triple digits to function, dude. And how ‘bout some protein, bro?” Why not make Dr. Pepper: Cock Edition. It’d be Dr. Pepper mixed with bull semen, twice the sugar and calories, and pure testosterone. Like enough to give you roid rage. Might actually make Dr. Pepper taste slightly better than the piss they put into bottles now. And bull semen is natural, so they can say that.

Now, I am a man. I think I’m pretty well-rounded in stereotypical male activities (opening jars, not asking for directions) and also at activities men stereotypically aren’t good at (asking for directions sometimes, etc.). And every now and then I try to act macho, but there’s no point. Look at photos of yourself as a kid doing something stupid that at the time you thought was cool. At some point in a man’s life, he quits his pursuit. Then he has a midlife crisis and buys a sports car or has an affair, just to prove he still has “it,” “it” in this case being the ability to make dumb decisions. Though,s if I can defend my brothers: it’s not all our fault. The media paints the perfect picture of men to get one thing from you: money. That’s all they used you for. They made you think UFC was cool, so you paid to take MMA classes and bought some official gear, and it’ll be lame later. Like right now. Now, it’s lame.

  • Lara

    You make some good points here, but you overlook one of the more frustrating / sad factors about the campaign: Dr. Pepper doesn’t expect women to NOT by Dr. Pepper Ten because of their marketing campaign. As you mentioned, the campaign is intentionally over-the-top, so they (in their marketing brilliance) think women will see that, twitter about it (we twitter a lot, generally, as a group), and then STILL buy it, despite how truly odious a campaign it is, despite how it is–as you pointed out–flattering to either sex. And there’s a great of precedent here, too: over and over again women buy what is very much anti-woman, because it’s easy to become desensitized to just how anti-woman the world can be. Dr. Pepper’s thinking is that, since women account for the majority of diet soda drinkers anyway, the company doesn’t need to work hard to convince them to buy the drink, anyway.

    That’s what makes this so sad. Dr. Pepper knows that women, desensitized to the sexism that daily influences our lives, will still go out and buy it, so instead they focused on the one elusive group who doesn’t drink diet, men. It’s ugly on both sides: women can’t drink Dr. Pepper Ten without throwing their money after a company who is USING them to target another marketing group, and men can’t drink it without supporting a crappy campaign and confirm its message (whether they do or not). Nobody wins–except perhaps Dr. Pepper, though we’ll see if this campaign sticks.

    Anyway, this was a good article, and I just thought I’d add this point to it.