Dr. Pepper's 'manly' diet soda

With 10 calories instead of zero, Dr. Pepper tries to win over men who think diet soda is just for women

In a scene out of Rambo, the debut commercial for Dr. Pepper 10 says the diet drink has only "10 many calories."
(Image credit: Screen shot, TIME.com)

In an effort to expand the market for diet soda, Dr. Pepper has launched an ad campaign to sell a new, 10-calorie drink to men. Rival sodas Coke Zero and Pepsi Max are also being marketed to men, but the blitz introducing Dr. Pepper Ten pushes the strategy to a new level. The company is offering samples of the soft drink in a mobile "Man Cave," and an ad states flatly that the sugary sweet soda is "not for women." Will this be enough to get more guys interested in diet soft drinks?

No, this is major overkill: Dr. Pepper is trying to do what Coke and Pepsi couldn't, says Margaret Hartmann in Jezebel, and sell to guys who think diet drinks are only "for girls." But Coke Zero and Pepsi Max are selling well, even if their NASCAR and Super Bowl ads didn't make them as macho as hoped. Dr. Pepper might soon learn that it's unwise to "launch a new brand by telling half the potential customers that the product is not for them."

"Dr Pepper Ten is "not for woman"

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Sure, marketing by gender can work: "In the world of marketing, apparently keeping the sexes separate, is important," says marketing strategist Dave Ibsen in his blog. It worked for Secret, the deodorant whose makers insist it's "strong enough for a man, but made for a woman." Men clearly have a problem with the idea of a zero-calorie soda — maybe Dr. Pepper Ten's small number of "bold" calories will make it appear more manly than the competition.

"Dr. Pepper Ten: Just enough calories to satisfy the male ego"

Forget marketing — taste is what counts: Dr. Pepper might get men's attention with its muscular, "Rambo style" commercials, says Sophie S. Benvenuti at Gather. And men might be more likely to go for a drink with 10 calories than one with none. But the real test is in the flavor. If Dr. Pepper Ten doesn't taste very close to the original, sugary version, men won't buy it.

"Dr. Pepper 10: Is it really a manly diet drink?"

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