How to Market to Millennial Males: A Dr. Pepper Ten Case Study

Dr. Pepper Ten 1In 2011, Dr. Pepper decided to launch their new diet soda in a big, and very specific, way. In an attempt to capture the young male market, the ten-calorie drink, Dr. Pepper Ten, was launched as a light beverage for guys only. “It’s not for women” was chosen as the slogan of the campaign, and commercial spots featuring aggressive, action-movie hero-like men racing through the jungle swigging cans of the soda were broadcast.

Reactions to the first commercial for the diet soda “not for women” were not positive. At all. The reliance on a hyper-macho depiction of men, shooting lasers at each other and deriding all things girly, was of course condemned as sexist; but it also did not mesh with the kind of masculinity that Gen Y men have cultivated for themselves. The message did not ring true to a group accustomed to blending traditionally masculine concepts with their own current conventions (if not rejecting typical macho expectations completely).

This was not a subtle depiction of what modern men should be. Any possibility it could be interpreted as facetious was undone by its bossy, directive tone. Parallel to the overall message that Dr. Pepper Ten is not for women were prescriptive orders on how to be a man. The campaign included an app that dispensed “man’ments:” orders like, “Thou Shalt Not Pucker Up. Kissy faces are never manly,” and the Facebook page for the soda allowed visitors play a game shooting at feminine items like lipstick and heels.

Some wondered if the machismo-reliant, no-girls-allowed approach would alienate women too much for Dr. Pepper Ten to be a success. But the real question should have been whether the portrayal of masculinity was the right tactic to take to capture the demographic the brand was clearly so desperate to attract: the Millennial male…

 
 

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The Newsfeed

“As a graphic designer, without the arts being available to me in school I would have been lost as a child and where to take my career path. The fact that schools are cutting art programs is heartbreaking.”—Female, 24, NJ

Applebee’s is putting down the sriracha and giving up on trying to appeal to Millennials. The brand has decided their newer menu items—like a “triple pork bonanza” sandwich—and attempt at a “modern bar and grill” reinvention has “alienate[d]” Boomers and Gen Xers. They’re shutting down more than 130 restaurants and bringing back initiatives from before their attempted “pendulum swing towards millennials,” all-you-can-eat specials and 2-for-$20 deals. Other brands are creating new spin off chains to appeal to fast-casual lovingMillennials, that “[lack] the associated baggage of the old.” (Inc, NPR)

Adults-only ball pits, bouncy houses, and giant slides are sweeping the U.K. Millennials seeking a break from adulthood are flocking to places like Wacky World’s “massive bouncy-castle obstacle course,” which started out as a children’s event. The founder received so many requests that now every event has an 18-and-over slot, and has expanded to 19 cities. This “trend for arrested development activities” is caused by nostalgia, but the influx of marketing and branding leveraging the emotion could be popularizing these playgrounds for adults. (The Guardian)

Facebook is responding to the trend of asking for birthday charitable donations by integrating it right into the platform. Users in the U.S. can now trade in all the “HBD”s they get on Facebook for donations to the cause of their choice: well-wishers will be notified of the birthday along with the selected non-profit, and get the chance to donate. Facebook will ask users which charity they wish to dedicate their day to two weeks in advance, allowing them to choose from 750,000 organizations. (TNW)

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Millennials & Gen Z are turning a profit online and on mobile by re-selling their retail. Thredup, Poshmark, and Depop are just a few of the most popular brands cashing in on the resale economy’s $18 billion market, and some shoppers say they are making $300 a week on the platforms. Some are also using social to sell, often in conjunction with apps or sites, including Snapchat, Facebook Groups, and Instagram. College students on a budget are reportedly especially drawn to resale, thanks to convenience, value, and access to luxury at a lower price. (FN)

“Adult means being entirely independent. I pay my own bills, make all decisions in my life, and feel very in control.”—Male, 20, NY

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