For my message evaluation, I chose to evaluate an ad for Dr. Pepper 10 – a Dr. Pepper drink with only ten calories. The commercial is visually striking – it’s quick and action-packed, with men driving a fast, Batman-reminiscent car through a jungle, dodging the fire of Star Wars-like weapons from pursuers even as they pour and drink the soda. The commercial does play out like mini over-done but still fun action movie, with buff men being tough and cool under pressure, and comical action to liven it up. In that regard, while the actor in the commercial does address “ladies”, it becomes apparent just from the context of the ad that the intended actual audience of the commercial is men. This is further supported with the actor’s lines of “Hello, ladies. This movie is not for you – and neither is Dr. Pepper 10!”, quickly followed with “10 manly calories” (with the word “manly” being emphasized) and the final addition “…catchphrase! Dr. Pepper 10 – it’s not for women!”.
Breaking this ad down through Kenneth Burke’s pentad reveals some of the reasoning behind the way the Dr. Pepper 10 drink was presented within it – exactly what about it that could be seen as enticing to the audience. The act of the ad is presenting the drink, Dr. Pepper 10, as it should be given the purpose of the commercial. The scene of the ad was in the middle of a jungle, in the middle of an action sequence with “cool” men and laserbeam-firing guns. The agent involved in the action was a buff man that echoed heroes of older, popular action movies (such as Rambo and Indiana Jones) . The agency is to make the drink (in the end, being a diet drink), and the people drinking the drink, look enticing – awesome, desirable – a play on what men fantasize about being. The purpose of the whole ad is to get the targeted audience to purchase to the drink.
Separately, the sections of the ad as through the pentad make it actually seem like a good ploy – diet drinks are not really considered the “cool” drink. Rather, in this day and age, diet drinks are mostly considered to be “sissy” drinks; the sodas people drink when they’re trying to watch their calorie intake, which means they are watching their figures, which means they are concerned about their looks, which is not something a man would usually want identified with himself. Also, a drink that’s “not for women” has an allure of it’s own; it’s a men’s drink, something that can be shared in a group of male friends that is something all of their own – something women have never and would never touch; just something men can share with other men. So when thought up and pitched before production, each section sounds like a perfect marketing tool and does not seem so bad.
However, when put all together, the ad has some serious drawbacks that leads to backlashes that make it perhaps not as persuasive as it could have been. While the idea was a good one, to target the drink towards men, literally coming right out and telling women that this Dr. Pepper drink isn’t for them, while perhaps endearing the drink to men a little more, probably cost the drink quite a few of its customers. I know that I, personally, would not like to be told that the new diet version of something that I drank “isn’t for you” simply because I am not man. Also, adding in the line of “10 manly calories”, while yes, both pointing out that the drink has only ten calories (thus the point of the new drink) and adding in “many” supports the purpose of the commercial, it also has the drawback of seeming … silly. This is due half to the delivery of the line, with the emphasis on the word “manly” and the tone of voice in which the actor gave it, as well as the wording of the line itself “10 manly calories” which just does not seem like something that would make a man feel empowered at all.
In my opinion, in its goal, this ad fell short of its mark, and not because it was targeted towards men; there are hundreds of products out there that are targeted towards men. It’s possible that this particular ad found it difficult to make a ploy at men only, when their product is essentially for either sex, but that is really not an excuse when they already had such wonderful material that they had come up with. For example, the scene of the ad was great – it drew on the aura of classic action movies, had echoes of “man-movies” such as Batman and Star Wars in the backdrop, an actor who looked like a cross between Indiana Jones and Rambo and other action stars of now. What the original ad provided in words that had the danger of turning away so many customers, it already had in context – visual cues and subtext that would be familiar and appealing to the desired audience. Truthfully, if the ad had gone with everything that it had, and talked about the drink without bringing gender into the commercial so flatly, they would have been more compelling, and would not have alienated any of its potential customers. But over all, as stated before, because of their choice, the ad did not have as much persuasive value as it could have.