You’re Killing Me, Dr. Pepper

I’m sure at least some other people have seen this commercial and been awestruck by the audacity of everyone’s favorite mystery flavor. I want to love you Dr. Pepper, but why must you make it so hard? I mean, I understand you need to reach some key demographics, and action sequences always seem to work well with men. I understand that you want to clear away any of the possible feminine connotations of drinking a diet soda, so that those men too manly for diet soda may be inclined to try your ‘new’ soda. But I don’t really understand how these two criteria, and any other similar criteria, require such a blatantly sexist advertising campaign. I can’t imagine Dr. Pepper would ever dream of running the same ad, but replacing the dichotomy of men and women with a similar racial dichotomy.

“Hey ladies, enjoying the film?” he asks, rhetorically, as he punches a snake in half. “Of course not, because this is OUR movie.”

What he really means is, women are too fragile and innocent to ever enjoy a hyper-violent movie that relies on special effects, not plot, to drive the storyline; only men, who are aggressive and dominant, could enjoy a movie like the kind they’re portraying. And, while I do love mindless action flicks, I don’t like the suggestion that this or that kind of movie is for men or women. I certainly don’t want to be associated with that sort of sexism just because I think Bruce Willis is THE badass. (If you don’t like Die Hard, you’re probably a nihilist.) I know women who only want to watch gore and violence, and I know men who like romantic comedies. We’re supposed to be past these sort of medieval stereotypes, get with it Dr. Pepper.

“And Dr. Pepper 10 is OUR soda,” he says, pouring a drink in a high speed jungle pursuit, “it’s only ten manly calories, but with all 23 flavors of Dr. Pepper. It’s what guys want!”

Just as men want action-packed movies, they also refuse to give up all the flavor of their soda, even if diet soda is a ‘healthier’ option. This is in stark contrast to women, who, as they seem to imply, care more about being thin than enjoying Dr. Pepper. That’s why Dr. Pepper had to create a manly alternative, or manternative, to normal diet soda. Now, I can’t tell if they are trying to be sexist in an ironic way, or are truly comfortable with making this sorts of objectifying claims, but I’ve already expressed how I feel about ironic sexism here. The point is, they’re continuing to reinforce negative stereotypes of women, while exalting masculinity.

“So you can keep the romantic comedies and lady drinks, we’re good.”

So, if you weren’t already clear, women are too emotional and weak to enjoy an action movie; instead, they need to stick to light-hearted romantic comedies. Men are above women, and therefore above things that are for women. Romantic comedies are for women, because they appeal to the weaknesses in women, while action movies appeal to the aggressive, dominant nature of men. Women need to be concerned solely with their body, while men are too good for the lesser taste of a lady drink. Diet soda is for women, Dr. Pepper 10 is for men. Whether this was intended or not, these are the underlying messages these sorts of ads send out to people. My hope is that this can be added up to poor decision by their marketing department, and not an accurate portrayal of how Dr. Pepper feels about gender.

2 thoughts on “You’re Killing Me, Dr. Pepper

  1. Chase, you know how much I love Diet Coke. The gendering of diet soft drinks is an issue near and dear to me.

    Also, Dr. Pepper 10 is just not even that good.


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