I Write Letters

by Shaker Moderator Aphra_Behn

[Trigger warning for misogyny, gender essentialism, implied violence.]

TO: Mr. Jim Trebilicock
Executive Vice President of Marketing
Dr Pepper-Snapple Group

Dear Mr. Trebilcock:

I have been reading about your new marketing campaign for Dr Pepper Ten, titled "It's Not For Women," which includes such items as a Facebook-based "Ten Manments" dictating which unmanly behaviors the drinkers of your soda should avoid, a game where players may shoot feminine items like lipstick and high heels, and a video spot in which a sneering man informs "ladies" that Dr Pepper 10 is "our [men's] drink." I also read with interest your statement that this campaign is intended to encourage discussion:

"'Is this really for men or really for women?' is a way to start the conversation that can spread and get people engaged in the product."

And so, in the spirit of discussion, I have a few questions I am hoping you'll clarify.

One: Do you think that emphatically declaring the product off-limits to women is the fastest way to get women "engaged in the product"?

I know that emphasizing men's inherent superiority and declaring certain things off-limits to women has in the past actually encouraged women to "get engaged" with things like literacy, voting, wages, and the right to their own bodily autonomy. But it usually takes a long time before women actually enjoy those off-limits things—we're talking centuries, here. Is that a normal advertising cycle in business, or are you more hoping lots of people will buy this in the next month?

Admittedly I am not part of your crack market research team, but even a multi-decade suffragist-style campaign to get women "engaged" with your brand seems sort of inefficient to me.

Two: Does your product need a boost in the key misogynist asshole demographic, and if so, is labeling that entire demographic "men" really wise?

It's been my observation that not all men, in fact, hate women. I don't know if your crack market research team picked up on this, but a number of bi- and heterosexual men, for example, actually fall in love with women. I have also heard (might just be a rumor) that there exist gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, and other-sexualities of men who are sometimes friends with actual women. Those are just a couple examples of men who might not appreciate being lumped in with women-fearing misogynist assholes who have to make sure that their soft drinks are sufficiently manly in order to avoid a fatal dose of cooties.

So I guess you're not worried about marketing to them, which is cool and all, but it seems like you're really limiting yourselves.

Three: Did you pay an advertising team to label certain behaviors as "manly" and "not-manly" based on research done on another planet?

I watched your video, and I learned from it (among other things) that women apparently hate movies with explodey-actiony-science-fictiony-thingies going on. I also learned from your Facebook campaign that men hate kissing, sharing pictures of their pets, and using emoticons. I take from this that your crack market research team did not attend any Earth movies, nor read any Earth social networking sites, but rather teleported to some other M-class planet by mistake. (Did it look like California? Those planets always look like California.) Because pretty sure when I caught Captain America and Thor this summer I did see actual Earth-women in the theatre. And I am also fairly certain that I know Earth-men who would not be caught dead seeing those movies. And in my observations, both Earth-men and Earth-women actually display a range of attitudes about kissing, emoticons, puppeh/kitteh pictures, and the like.

So I'm thinking, you paid them a lot of money for research that isn't relevant to life on Earth. Plus you got stuck with the teleporting bill. Suxxors!

Four: Did someone in your advertising team tell you this campaign was hip, edgy, or original?

If so, I think you should pay closer attention to the grades your clever marketing minds got in their history classes. An obsessive fear of women and the feminine (and the need to establish masculine superiority by denigrating the same) isn't new, nor fresh, nor original. In fact, it rather made me wonder if you were planning to re-release the entire campaign in dactylic hexameter, because it would appeal so well to the key dead Homeric Greek dude demographic.

(Just kidding! We all know dead Homeric Greek dudes drink Coke Zero.)

Five: Do you think that re-enforcing misogynist attitudes could maybe just possibly have any real-world negatives?

Now, I want to make this clear. I don't think that your advertising campaign, in and of itself, will directly lead any misogynistic assholes to commit violence against women, harass them in the workplace, or harm men they deem insufficiently "manly." But ( I'm just brainstorming, now), maybe putting a "game" on your FB page that encourages players to "shoot" feminine things like lipstick and high heels isn't the best way to say that Dr. Pepper stands against anti-woman violence. I'm just wondering, if (maybe) reinforcing the tired, ancient stereotypes that some things are ultra-masculine and therefore off-limits to women (and required for men) isn't the best way to say that: "Dr Pepper has always remained original, showing its appreciation and commitment to diversity by sponsoring multicultural programs." (That's from the Dr Pepper Facebook page, FYI.) I'm just wondering if you think that an advertising campaign apparently designed to appeal to deeply misogynist assholes could lead some audience members to think that you and your advertising team are, in fact, deeply misogynist assholes yourselves.

Or maybe it's just me.

Eagerly awaiting your response,

Dr. Aphra Behn
Associate Professor of Historical Ladybusiness
Southern Gothic University

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