Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My response to Dr. Pepper

Dear Consumer Relations,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my complaint. I only wish I could say thank you for taking the time to actually read and understand it.

Your response read as a flippant, patronizing “Jeez, learn to take a joke, lady,” and I didn’t appreciate it. Fortunately for us, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other feminist pioneers didn’t just 'learn to take the joke.'

First off, I resent the implication that because I share common anatomical features with another person, I should automatically shut up and listen to that person. Your response stated: “I am a woman who loves the full flavor of Dr Pepper TEN and the fact that it’s only 10 calories. When I first saw the tongue-in-cheek advertising campaign and the tagline, my reaction was, “I’ll be the judge of that.” In other words, no one is going to tell me what I can eat or drink.”

Oh, well, if another woman says it's okay...!

That’s lovely for “you” or “her” or whomever, but as I explained in my initial email, the context in which this ad is being received was never considered. Since January of this year, over 200 pieces of legislation have been passed that seek to limit women’s access to basic health care. Two international treaties establish access to family planning and abortion services as basic human rights, yet here in the US, women are once again dying because some people don’t believe equality is for everyone.

Oddly enough, I just can’t find oppressive, misogynistic patriarchy very funny right now.

The response then states: “We hope you, too, will come to see our advertising campaign for what it is, a humorous take on the many men who are worried about their waistlines but are too “manly” to drink a diet soda.” The lack of grammar aside, this sentence proves no one read or comprehended a word of my initial contact.

I understand what the campaign was trying to achieve – I promise I do – but your “humorous take” is offensive, derogatory and inappropriate, especially now, given the volatile political climate. Dead Jew jokes aren’t funny to Holocaust survivors, and “women aren’t allowed to have this” jokes aren’t funny to women engaged in a nationwide and worldwide battle for autonomy, equality and freedom.

I am a woman who loves my basic human rights,and when I first saw the seriously-misplaced humor of your advertising campaign and its tagline, my reaction was “I really hope this is a result of unintentional ignorance and not a subversive attempt to reinforce dominant misogynistic male social norms and further disenfranchise and oppress women.” I’m still holding out hope that it’s the former.

I hope this second letter makes it past the first line of response to someone who has actual authority, and again, I hope these ill-conceived and inappropriate ads get removed from the air before more damage is done.

Thank you,



  1. Replies
    1. I got a request to take a survey about 'my experience' but the open responses only gave me like 300 characters or something silly so I couldnt complain quite as much as I wanted to. So far, nothing new from them, though.