Dr Pepper is killing its "mash up" TV spots. (A mash up combines two or more pieces of music. DJ Danger Mouse famously combined the Beatle’s White Album and Jay-Z’s Black Album to create The Grey Album.)
The Dr Pepper spots were created by Kinka Usher for Y&R New York. Usher mixed music from Kiss, Will Smith and Cyndi Lauper. The point of the exercise was, according to AdAge.com, to "play up the notion that Dr Pepper has 23 flavors that make up its unique taste."
But as I listened to the spots, available by subscription at AdAge.com, I was impressed with another application. The music swirls in and out of the ad, as do the images. And over the course of 30 seconds, two things become clear. Dr Pepper is many things to many people. And Dr Pepper has a certain transformational liguidness.
As marketers fight the problem of plenitude and the long tail, as they learn to build brands that speak to many people, the "mash up" ad holds real potential. We can only guess at Dr Pepper’s motives at pulling the ads, but the AdAge article notes that while Dr Pepper was one of few big CSDs to grow in 2005, it started to lose volume this year. Dr. Pepper is owned by Cadbury and it accounts for more than half of its carbonated-soft-drink sales.
MacArthur, Kate. 2006. SEE THE ‘MASH-UP’ TV SPOTS KILLED BY DR PEPPER. Music-Heavy Commercials Cost $5 Million to Produce. Adage.com. March 29, 2006. here. by subscription.
For more on mash-ups, see Terdiman, Daniel. 2004. Mashup Artists Face the Music. Wired News. May 4, 2004. here.
Grant, can you email me at the address below? From CBC TV
Mash-ups are risky. Like you say: who knows what they mean?
“You’re A Pepper” is safe. Pulling risky and reverting to safe when sales are down is the tried and true.
Maybe I’m a cynic, but many of the execs I’ve seen don’t have a lot of courage.
Better to go down with well-trodden wisdom than to be called a fool…