Adam Polaski

New Dr. Pepper Campaign Pushes Masculinity Stereotypes

Filed By Adam Polaski | October 18, 2011 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: Dr. Pepper, gender roles, Man's Last Stand, masculinity, stereotype

DrPepperTen.jpgThe makers of Dr. Pepper Ten, the new 10-calorie, "not-diet" soda from the brand that seems to produce a new variety every six months, are trying to bring the "No Girls Allowed" motto back into the spotlight. At least that's what it looks like they're doing with their new marketing campaign for Dr. Pepper 10, which is targeting male consumers.

Last week, a television commercial premiered (see below), along with a Facebook hub where users can take quizzes and play games.

The new campaign is one of the most blatantly sexist advertising strategies we've seen in years, so hell-bent on attracting male customers that it's decided to reinforce many of the key stereotypes of masculinity. The company is emphasizing that its product, which represents characteristics of "maleness," is exclusionary; at the end of the TV spot, the protagonist yells, "IT'S NOT FOR WOMEN." Dr. Pepper Ten plans to air its ads on FX and ESPN, according to The Huffington Post.

The campaign seeks to define what is masculine - and, by virtue of our societal gender binary, it is, by extension, defining what is feminine. Men, according to Dr. Pepper Ten, like action movies. They don't care if they spill their food and drink everywhere. They drive fast cars. They are daredevils, jumping off of cliffs. They litter. And they certainly don't like "girly" drinks like those other diet sodas.

The campaign works even harder to construct masculinity online, using its Facebook page to promote the "Ten Man'Ments" (which is just a really poor spoof of the 10 Commandments). The "man'ments" include nonsense like "Thou Shalt Not Instagram Your Lunch (Real Men Eat Lunch Not Tweet It)," and "Thou Shalt Not End a Comment with A = )". See more of the "man'ments" below.


I realize the campaign is consciously playing on these classic stereotypes of macho masculinity. But it doesn't feel like mockery or satire. It's not playing up the masculinity stereotypes in order to knock them down or even just wink at them. The campaign encourages policing of masculinity and the silencing of sensitivity.

Hell, maybe I'm just having my own crisis of masculinity. After all, I enjoy "furry animal videos," watch romantic comedies, write "omg" to express disbelief, and prefer Bravo reality marathons to ESPN binges. Do those things mean that Dr. Pepper Ten is not meant for me? And, by extension, do those things mean that I am not a real man?

It's upsetting to see that we haven't even come close to moving to a point where marketing heads and advertising agencies can resist the urge to use gender stereotyping and gender role reinforcing in its hopes to sell a product. After the uproar over Dodge's "Man's Last Stand" commercial a few years ago, I figured we had at least put a dent in the idea that misogyny sells. I guess not.

Take a look for yourself and decide:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Annette Gross Annette Gross | October 18, 2011 12:07 PM

Oy! Parents and educators should be up in arms! This is a terrible commercial! It's funny though, because it brought to mind the old Virginia Slims cigarette commercials, which were geared just to women. Seems advertisers can't get away from those stereotypes. Don't they have ANY creativity at all?

Laurie Edwards | October 18, 2011 12:08 PM

Thank goodness none of the males I know would even consider buying a product with so sexist and silly an ad campaign as this one. Please tell me Americans aren't stupid enough to fall for this. What ever happened to the Dr. Pepper commercials with David Naughton singing and dancing? He seemed plenty masculine to me--and he sold his soda-pop just fine.

Not for women, eh? Well, it's not going to bother me if I don't buy their product anymore.

This is also airing on G4TV, since I've been seeing it on that channel as well.

gregory brown | October 19, 2011 11:12 AM

I suppose there's going to be another round of quiche hating, too.

I used to think about having a sticker made saying REAL MEN EAT WHATEVER THEY WANT.

Good Lord. This is OBVIOUSLY tongue in cheek, people taking it serious and all up in arms need to chill out. A sense of humor is a terrible thing to waste.

Diet carbonated prune juice. I agree with the advertisers...they definitely didn't make that swill for me. You men enjoy. :P