Nostalgia is a good thing as long as it doesn’t exclude the larger audience you are actually trying to reach. With nods to the past that are too heavy-handed, the younger generation will think of the product as their parents’ domain, or worse, their grandparents’. Building on the “I’m A Pepper” theme that launched around a quarter-century ago, the Dr Pepper Snapple Group marketers have done a solid job bringing something from the past into the current environment in a fresh way.
Dr Pepper introduced the “I’m A Pepper” campaign in 1977 with an over-the-top dance number that seems to be time stamped specifically for the late seventies. Beyond the dated aspect of it, it was singular or communal with everyone wanting to be a Pepper.
25 years later, it is only fitting that they reach back to that campaign and freshen it up. The thing that’s commendable is not just in making it seem fresh, but in its incidental anthropology model. This new version celebrates everyone’s individuality in ways the original didn’t. They don’t even get to I’m A Pepper until the end of the spot. Interestingly, they didn’t use the original jingle, but they did use an update of an Sammy Davis, Jr’s classic “I’ve Gotta Be Me.”
In an age where everyone if touting, or flaunting, their individuality on Facebook, Twitter or any other social site, the new spot’s themes fit perfectly with the times. While everyone touts their individuality with slogans on their shirts – like I’m a Beginner, I’m A Dreamer, I’m A Vailable and even a bulldog’s canine-sized shirt touting I’m A Wingman – they all come together as a larger group in the end. I know they weren’t making a political statement by comparing it to geopolitical instances like the Arab Spring, but the inference is spot on and energizing.
Besides making the strong spot, they placed the media beautifully during the NFL’s conference championships – whose ratings were the highest in 30 years. It has the celebratory feel that works perfectly on such a large stage.
Online, they hope to continue the excitement with a Twitter campaign under the #ImA hashtag and on the Dr. Pepper site. I believe the entire campaign is run by Deutch LA. On the site, a promotion allows users to create their own I’m A shirt. I would be more inclined to purchase if a portion of the proceeds went to a charity. Otherwise, it reminds me of another throwback to those Coca-Cola clothes that were in fashion in the eighties where I refused to be a walking billboard for a company – a sentiment that continues to this day.
The site shows thumbnails of people and what they purport to be. Though they are repetitive now – probably due to it being early in the campaign – there were some that stuck out like, I’m A Wiccan Lesbian and Large Cocked Creature. I imagine management would like to see much less repetition and more moderation, but at least they’re providing the opportunity to share.
Tapping into nostalgia is strong, but can sometimes be limiting. This team has done a great job of tapping into that while bringing the sentiment to new eyes in ways that fit the times.
Now if only they can solve my dilemma of not giving proceeds to charity AND charging close to five dollars for S&H, I will be able to get myself a shirt or two!