Wanted: A Targeted Message with a Broad Appeal

Developing an advertising campaign or marketing plan for one particular demographic can prove to be rather difficult. One must cater to the personalities of a particular sect, while being careful not to step on any toes in the process. With the meteoric rise of social media, communicators must be cautious not to offend a particular group. Upset just a few key members or influencers of a demographic and with just a few clicks of the keyboard you could have a full-blown PR firestorm on your hands. Don’t believe me? Just ask Ragu.

Last month Ragu launched a new campaign aimed towards mothers. The campaign featured a number of videos that implied that all dads were utterly helpless in the kitchen and their dishes absolute paled in comparison to those of their female counterparts. But alas, there was hope for dear old dad. Enter Ragu; the pasta sauce was here to save the day (and dinner).

While developed with mothers in mind, the video caught the attention of at least one proud father, C.C. Chapman. Chapman, the founder of the Digital Dads blog network, didn’t find the video too amusing. The man with almost 30,000 Twitter followers went on to voice his disdain for Ragu’s latest campaign in his next blog entry titled “Ragu Hates Dads.”  (Read the original post here) The funny thing about this entire ordeal was that Ragu first engaged Chapman via their Twitter handle @RaguSauce. The campaign may not have even caught Chapman’s eye had Ragu not sought him out!

Regardless, the damage was done and Digital Dads everywhere had to be less than pleased with Ragu. Since Chapman’s post on Sept. 27, the company has personally contacted him and explained their initial intentions behind the campaign. Chapman penned a follow-up post after his conversation with Ragu’s reps, stating that he understood their intentions but wanted to remind them of a communication strategy he held in high regard: If you want any other audience beyond your target market to be interested in your product, you must make them feel welcomed.

I bring this up because earlier this week I saw a similar campaign that may or may not stir up comparable emotions. Dr. Pepper recently launched a new line of soft drink called Dr. Pepper Ten, all the Dr. Pepper taste with only ten calories, and it’s not a diet drink. The soft drink’s campaign and the “It’s not for women” tagline has been featured on ESPN, FX Networks and throughout recent college football broadcasts.

Clearly Dr. Pepper and its parent company PepsiCo are looking to overcome the stigma of diet drinks among the male demographic. By ditching the diet tag yet still touting the drink’s low calorie count, Dr. Pepper Ten is positioning itself as a macho alternative to the diet soda.

So far the campaign hasn’t been met with any public backlash. Jim Trebilcock, executive vice president of marketing for Dr. Pepper, recently told USA Today that the marketing efforts were tested in six different markets prior to their nationwide launch and that women weren’t offended. “Women get the joke,” said Trebilcock.

What do you think is the difference between these two cases? Is Dr. Pepper Ten perfectly toeing the line that Ragu seemed to cross? Or are both of these campaigns seemingly harmless? Both offensive? Share your thoughts below!

by Daniel Sweeney | posted | in Advertising & Marketing
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