If you’ve watched any TV recently, I’m sure you’ve seen the Dr. Pepper ads like the one below. These spots promote Dr. Pepper TEN and feature a burly, Paul Bunyan-esque figure combined with Beastmaster.

If you’re paying attention, this is not the first campaign the soda company has run for this low-calorie beverage targeted to men. In October of 2011, I wrote about the dubious use of the tagline “It’s Not for Women,” as well as the testosterone-fueled messaging that produced commercials featuring commandos in mock movies talking up the diet soda. I was certain that the tone of messaging and lack of originality would spell certain doom. Yet, even after that stink bomb, it seems the marketing team talked its way into a Round Two to further bury the soda.

Unfortunately for all of us, the second concept suffers the same fate as the first – lack of any innovation. Both ideas are a clear reaction to the successful Old Spice campaign (rip-off is such an ugly word).

Here, the lumberjack version tries to further tap into the off-kilter, yet compelling approach of Old Spice, but still falls flat (see bear suit). Consumers have seen this tactic before, so any second-rate attempt to seem edgy while pushing a product is going to leave a bitter taste in people’s mouths (think aspartame).

Dr. Pepper Ad

Product-focused companies, like movie studios, want to run with the lowest-risk ideas as possible, usually falling back on what has been done before (hello, comic book hero du jour).

It is that same fear of failure that dooms many campaigns because they don’t take any chances. Blazing a trail isn’t cheap, but neither is coming up with lame campaign after lame campaign. Dr. Pepper has produced iconic ads before, so I’m hopeful for Round Three. How about a new direction, folks? Maybe some original thinking?

And yes, Zesty Italian dressing, with your shirtless @TheZestyGuy – I’m talking to you too.

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