Yes, adorable little child?
“You know those ads for Dr. Pepper 10 that equate drinking diet Dr. Pepper to guns and being a Viking and smashing things with your bare hands and being in a rodeo and stuff?”
“Those are awful. They make me want to burn things. How can those exist?”
Oh, well, that’s a very interesting story. Gather ‘round, children! It’s story time. This is the story of The Diet Cola Vendors and The Impregnable Male Market Demographic!
Once upon a time, many years ago, the first diet cola came out. And there was much rejoicing. But then marketers saw that men weren’t buying diet soda and they were sad. Poor marketers. Sad, sad, sad. For, even though fortunes were being made, the advertisers and kindly cola makers were frustrated that half the population was refusing to buy their product for no other reason than the fact that they didn’t want it. Stubborn men. Stubborn, stubborn, stubborn.
Some years passed and men began, more and more, to believe that their bodies were inferior if they didn’t have six-pack abs. Women said, “Welcome to our world.” Welcome, welcome, welcome. The marketers were happy! Men were feeling inferior about their bodies, and the cola makers thought they finally had their chance! They just had to convince men it was okay. So they repackaged the cola. They called it Pepsi One, and made ads with jets and explosions and Cuba Gooding jr. and guys in Reservoir Dogs suits walking in slow motion. They thought maybe they could sneak the diet cola to the men, like the Trojan horse! Do you know the story of the Trojan horse, boys and girls? No? Seriously? Well, whatever.
The men bought Pepsi One a little bit, but not very much. You see, even though men are very dumb, they still didn’t want to drink diet Pepsi, and they definitely didn’t want to hang out with Cuba Gooding jr. And Pepsi was sad. But then their friends over at Coca-Cola made Coke Zero, and put it in a black can. It looked ever so manly.
And men started buying it! It was working! The Pepsi people made Pepsi Max, which sounded even manlier, and men bought it more and more! The cola people realized they just needed to give the colas ever more absurdly masculine packaging and men would think that they wanted this product that they’d never wanted before! So they used lots of words like “X-Treme” and “Intense” and “Skull” and such. Soon, men even believed that Mountain Dew would make them good at outdoor athletics.
And, yes, most of the cola people were happy. But not all of them. You see, the people over at Dr. Pepper wanted to sell diet pop to men, too. Men had come around to believing that they wanted to drink diet soda, but they were uncomfortable with the word “diet,” because it sounded girly. And the people over at Dr. Pepper were sad because their diet soda was still called “Diet,” and also some people were still put off by how people say that Dr. Pepper is carbonated prune juice. Prunes, prunes, prunes. Poor Dr. Pepper.
What could they do? Well, they got the smartest advertisers from across the land together. And the advertisers thought and they thought and they thought. And finally, the bravest one of all said, “We’ll do what men have always done! We’ll over-compensate!” And then, like the heroes over at the Axe Body Spray company, they tried to underestimate men’s intelligence. They decided to rename their diet drink “Dr. Pepper 10” and make comically stupid ads about how intensely, ruggedly masculine their pop is. They’d make ads that actually suggest that women can’t drink the cola, like it’s a clubhouse or something.
“And did it work? Did the Cola marketers defeat the bad men?”
It’s too soon to say, little girl. It’s too soon to say. They’ll only succeed if men are dumb enough to believe that drinking a diet sody-pop will make them manly and tough and rugged.