Marketing Doctor John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of the Week: Dr. Pepper Ten and Oprah


Brand Winner…

And Loser…


Marketing Doctor John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week

Winner:  Dr. Pepper Ten


Loser:  Oprah



Chalk up Dr. Pepper Ten as a real marketing winner this week.


The beverage company, the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, has identified its Target Market for Dr. Pepper Ten and is doing everything to let them know this product is for them. 

The Target Market?  Men only.

There’s been a predictable outcry because of the perceived bias against women.

But bottom line, in everything from the packaging (gunmetal grey and silver bullets) to its ad campaign, Dr. Pepper Ten is both creating alot of free publicity by being controversial while cementing its brand.

Here’s a sample of the targeted advertising.  In this spot a man is trying to pour Dr Pepper Ten while riding an ATV:

“Hey ladies. Enjoying the film? Of course not. Because this is our movie
and this is our soda.  You can keep the romantic comedies and
lady drinks. We’re good.”

Dr. Pepper Ten is also smart because it’s addressing a real need in a still lucrative market.  The soft drink industry is worth $74 billion per year, but sales have been declining.  Health consciousness is part of the reason.  Diet soda options are growing, but the problem is that taste is a issue for many consumers. 

Dr. Pepper Ten got its name because it has ten calories some of which come from two grams of sugar –this addition of sugar to the diet drink supposedly addresses some of the taste issues while also overcoming some of the perception obstacles that diet sodas still have in men’s minds.

Dr. Pepper Ten’s pointedly macho image is going to be advertised directly to its Target Market with spots during college football games on ESPN.  And the Facebook page for the product offer applications that actually can exclude women.

This goes back to a favorite concept of mine: targeted relations.  What Dr. Pepper Ten is doing might be called marketing/advertising, but since it is obvious that this approach was destined to generate controvery and hence free publicity, we’re actually also in public relations’ territory –and that’s the point.  Dr. Pepper Ten will benefit from the furor over excluding women and further underscore their “street cred” with their Target Market, men.

Fact is, for Dr. Pepper Ten successful public relations as defined by appealing to the widest possible audience would translate to failed targeted relations and hence undermine the product’s marketing.  Luckily, they’ve turned their back on public relations.

This is a lot like Ben & Jerry’s controversial flavor of a few weeks back: Schweddy Balls.  Sure, it might have upset some in the general public, but the Target Market got the joke and not only that they probably drew closer to Ben & Jerry’s because others in the general public didn’t get the joke.

Hats off to Dr. Pepper Ten and the courage to really target your market.


I have long been an admirer of the Oprah brand.

Few have had the extraordinary staying power and potent brand management that Oprah has.  The empire she has built is truly incredible.

That’s why I’m a little sad, folks, to say that Oprah is our loser of the week.

Here’s why:

Her network is struggling.  OWN (“The Oprah Winfrey Network”) is simply not finding its audience.

To some extent, I think the issue is a variation on the People Buy Brands Not Companies idea. 

Oprah built the kind of loyalty she has personally, by being there for her fans day after day by way of her show.  The show reached fans both through its mass media transmission but also in many respects by Oprah cultivating  brand loyalty by individual connections made with thousands upon thousands of fans.

In other words, Oprah herself is the brand and OWN is
a company.  Sure it has the Oprah Winfrey stamp but it isn’t Oprah

But there’s another problem.  Even fans can get enough Oprah.  So the
issue isn’t as simple as populating every minute with Oprah.

Truth be told there might not be a solution to the OWN problem.  Some critics have complained that the programming is too soft, too kind, not hard edged enough.

Given the latest move, the arrival of Rosie O’Donnell, Oprah might have listened to these critics.

But, wow, this is another mistake.  The Rosie O’Donnell who Oprah once said was her only real competition for Queen of Daytime doesn’t really exist anymore.

Fact is, while Rosie’s appearance on OWN spiked the ratings momentarily, this is not likely going to be an effect that will last.

After all, Rosie is no Oprah.  She’s got a history that includes having alienated audiences in ways that probably mean many people will never accept her brand again in the way they once did.

Even if they did, the challenge is still filling the airwaves with content that will get people watching.  It’s an achievement to get people to watch you for one hour a day; it’s probably an impossibility to get them to watch you 24/7 –but that’s the business OWN is in.

Still, if anyone can pull it off, Oprah can –maybe with a mixture of more Oprah on the set and the kind of programming that complements her brand…Stay tuned.

And remember, it’s always easier when you keep marketing and branding in mind.


TODAY’S TANTILLO TAKEAWAY –  Always ask: what does your Target Market need?








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