I’d feel like Peter Griffin grinding my gears if I started this again with “Can we talk about,” but seriously, can we talk about Dr. Pepper Ten?
I know I just wrote about an ad. This one’s a little different. I find the ad itself only mildly offensive. It’s relatively benign, in fact. It’s the ad for the “new” Dr. Pepper Ten. It begins with a man walking into a shed and asking “Ladies, ever wonder what men are always doing out in the shed?” Now, for anyone who hasn’t seen it, spoiler alert: the answer is drinking Diet Dr. Pepper.
Er, uh, did I say Diet Dr. Pepper? I meant Dr. Pepper Ten. Actually, no, I meant Diet Dr. Pepper.
It’s Diet Dr. Pepper, except apparently you have to open it with a drill press, ride a mechanical shark, and slide down a fireman’s pole. Wait, are they for real? I, for one, actually tended to think of mechanical animal riding as something men wanted to see women do, not watch each other do. And same goes for poles. I mean, there’s really kind of a homoerotic subtext going on that I was missing at first glance. That’s what they meant to do, isn’t it?
It ends with their brilliantly witty slogan, dreamed up by the marketing department just for this brand new drink: “It’s not for women.”
I mean, this line is so blatantly meant to be offensive that it isn’t offensive anymore. It’s trying too hard to be offensive. You can tell, it just wants women to be all “Oh my god, that’s so stupid. I could totally drink that.” Please, women, don’t do that.
No, what I find offensive is completely different. The most offensive thing is how this kind of advertising—advertising which is basically backlash to the PC world we live in, which says if you can’t be nice, be extra mean—has become the new normal.
I fucking hate that. I mean obviously not everyone has the same threshold for what’s offensive and it’s possible to misread a situation or overestimate your rapport with someone and make a joke that is perhaps a little too far, but when the other person doesn’t just go along with it, the “it’s only not funny because you’re making it not funny” response is bullshit. It’s peer pressure. It’s literally the same as the kid in junior high who said “Oh, come on man. Smoking is cool. You want everyone to think you’re cool too, right?”
Dr. Pepper isn’t the only brand doing this. The last ad I talked about really falls victim to the same kind of logic where if you’re not laughing at their hyper-offensive schlock, it’s because they don’t want to talk to you either, na na na na boo boo.
And then there’s the sad thing about this new direction for Dr. Pepper: that they’ve even had to come up with this “new” product and market it in the first place. Diet Dr. Pepper does already exist, and much like Diet Coke and Coke Zero, probably they will both continue to exist despite being the same damn product. The only difference is that only women can drink anything with the word “Diet” in its name.
This is obviously because women go on diets to be skinny. Men, on the other hand, take in fewer calories when they want to lose some pounds. Those are completely different things, according to this new distinction. I mean, who knew the connotations of “Diet” were so vast, and apparently overwhelmingly feminine? To have to create a new brand just because men are scared of the word diet is just plain sad. Women have always felt the pressures to look a particular way, and our “ideal body type” looks almost nothing like a physiologically healthy body type. Those pressures have shifted, and this is just more proof of it. There was a time when women were under tremendous pressure to be the right dress size with the right bra size, while men had significantly less pressure, but when feminism demanded equality, this wasn’t what anyone had in mind. Now men face many of the same pressures; they’re just not supposed to admit it, which is why “Diet” isn’t in the dude handbook.
Basically what I’m saying is that Dr. Pepper is using bullying tactics to sell a product that already exists under a different name because they think we’re too stupid to see through it and too smart to not laugh with them to avoid being laughed at. Sorry Dr. Pepper. I’ll be honest: I wouldn’t have bought it because I hate artificial sweetener anyway, but my mom taught be how to deal with bullies when I was about 7 and I guess this is just more practice.