By Daniel Rigney
Which current television commercials make you reach urgently for the remote to change the channel, if only momentarily, to avoid having to see or hear them again? Here’s my own nominee for worst new commercial on TV:
Dr. Pepper Ten, for Men Only
Two theatrically-hypermasculine guys sharing a manly war buggy are firing off their ray-guns like soldiers of fortune on speed. Between skirmishes with one enemy after another, they pause to enjoy the “ten manly calories” in new Dr. Pepper Ten.
Voiceover: “Sorry, ladies. Dr. Pepper Ten is not for women.”
First of all, what is a “manly calorie”? I didn’t know calories were gendered.
Second, any guy who doesn’t see that Dr. Pepper Ten is just a diet soda for men who are afraid of looking unmanly for drinking diet sodas is not too bright. The difference between zero and ten calories is negligible. Do the madmen at Dr. Pepper really think we’re that gullible? Oh, they do? Okay then.
Third, men who are this existentially frightened of a little diet soda should probably seek gender maturity counseling as soon as possible.
Strictly for research purposes, you understand, I went out immediately after I saw this commercial and bought a Dr. Pepper Ten. To me it tastes just like regular diet Dr. Pepper. But boy did I feel a sudden testosterone surge, and an irresistible urge to go shopping with the guys for ray-guns and Kevlar vests. Those ten manly calories really pack a kick.
Runner-up for worst commercial: A State Farm office agent and a customer at home share a creepy “Journey moment” on the phone, exchanging lines rapid-fire from the lyrics of Journey’s 1980 hit song “Any Way You Want It.” (“Any time. Anywhere. All night. Every night. That’s the way you need it.” – referring, of course, to the availability of insurance services.) The customer’s wife, sitting at a table nearby, looks up and glares as her husband describes a Journey concert he attended (Fresno, 1983) that was “crawling with chicks.”
The floor is open for further nominations.