As a marketing professional, you’ll often hear me talk about segmenting your market and drilling down to figure out who it really is you’re trying to reach. Recently, Dr. Pepper took their target market research to the extreme and, after finding that men were not keen on diet drinks (the drinks were not “manly” enough), they developed a marketing campaign based on “no women allowed.”

A quote from USA Today:

To appeal to men, Dr Pepper made its Ten drink 180 degrees different than Diet Dr Pepper. It has calories and sugar unlike its diet counterpart. Instead of the dainty tan bubbles on the diet can, Ten will be wrapped in gunmetal grey packaging with silver bullets. And while Diet Dr Pepper’s marketing is women-friendly, the ad campaign for Ten goes out of its way to eschew women.

In addition to its manly packaging and action movie commercials, the soft drink company also established a men-only Facebook page where the “manly” games and video content is blocked if you’re a woman.

So, is the Dr. Pepper 10 campaign much different than others before it? What about the Pepsi Max “I’m Good” 2009 Super Bowl spot where the catch phrase was, “Men can take anything, except diet soda”? Well here’s the deal: Pepsi’s campaign focused on men, but the company still engaged women by making the commercials funny without alienating the women who were watching them.

Dr. Pepper is still talking to women in its commercial, just not in a very nice way. It’s like grade school all over again with boys-only club houses, “boys rule, girls drool” chants and boys are better at (insert sport here) than girls. And even though it may be done in good fun, there’s a good chance Dr. Pepper could rub a good percentage of their women consumers the wrong way.

But if these type of drink are for men, why should companies even care about what women think?

Simple. Who is buying the drink?

Men may drink it, but are they the ones making the purchasing decisions? Could be, but my guess is not the majority of the time. In fact, women have always made the majority of household spending decisions, and as their earning power recovers faster than men during the recession, women will have even more purchasing power (Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, December 2010). Women also account for 80 percent of all consumer purchasing decisions, making 93 percent of food purchases. (Source: Money Talks).

Still think it’s a good idea to alienate women now, Dr. Pepper?

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t segment your markets; you should always be specific about who you’re trying to reach. However, equally important is looking at your secondary markets or who has buying power. If you don’t have that audience on board, you’ve missed the mark.


  1. says

    This is a great post, your insight into the household purchasers of soda and possibly alienating the grocery store shopper is right on.

    So how could they make this campaign work better? Maybe their target market is Single Men, within a certain age group? I don’t think the campaign in itself is bad. But where the ad placement is key: should it be in a more male dominated area like convenience stores, men’s rooms, etc. Then this type of Dr. Pepper advertising makes a lot of sense.

    • says

      Thanks, Sarah! True, ad placement makes a difference. I know that Dr Pepper did focus its TV ads on ESPN and more male-dominated channels. Which I think it great, except, they’re still talking to women in the ad. It might be more effective if they skipped the narrative to women in the ad altogether and spoke to directly to men (something like, “Hey, doesn’t matter if your girlfriend/wife/etc doesn’t like action films, you can still enjoy them…” or whatever catchy phrase works).

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