September 20, 2012

Are You A Pepper?

Dr. Pepper has recently released a new ad hailed as the “Evolution of Flavor” ad showing an ape with no Dr. Pepper can as representation of “Pre-Pepper,” then a Dr. Pepper can inspected by an upright ape showing “Pepper Discovery,” and ending with an obvious present-day man drinking out of a Dr. Pepper can so dubbed as “Post-Pepper.” This ad campaign sparked much discussion on Facebook according to the Huffington Post.

Some expressed anger at the ad’s support of evolution. NPR reported, “some creationists who are loudly expressing outrage at the idea that humans evolved from soda-discovering apes.” Apparently, these creationists posted a variety of comments on Facebook proclaiming their frustration with the company for an ad that clearly is playing with evolution. To even be affected by this ad in such a way that they comment, “I ain’t no freaking chimp. No more Dr. Pepper for my household” seems incredulous, or at the very least silly. What is disturbing, though, is that the ad drew more attention to the parody than to the fact that Dr. Pepper is a soda full of sugar and calories and sodium, all contributors to an unhealthy diet.

Yet I also see some hope.

Fast food chains and junk food companies (like Dr. Pepper’s parent company Cadbury) have been offending a variety of groups. Who can forget the Chick-fil-a incidents this past summer? And though the Huffington Post reported today about the chicken magnates new leaf, the residue of this summer lay heavy on many hearts still. Burger King and McDonald’s have recently offended Hindus and Muslims respectively. Domino’s and Jack in the Box have taken on pro-Christian issues thus excluding women and non-Christians. Frankly, the list goes on. I actually think this has potential for goodness. The more these unhealthy companies offend people, the less people will eat of their foods. Perhaps through their parody ads playing with the idea of evolution or a Hindu goddess worshiping a sandwich or whatever, people will stop eating foods that are so clearly unhealthy for them.

I’m not saying that I support any of the many companies’ choices, but I do like the idea that ad campaigns, such as those that have offended Christians because of soda-seeking apes, have changed those minds. These vocal Christians may stop drinking a sugary, calorie-loaded drink because of this ad, which means they are one step closer to being healthier.

The controversies that come with these company’s choices are frustrating to the many who are offended, but they also have forced people to think about how they are spending their money and what they are putting in their bodies. This is good.

It’s also important to note that as many people as these companies have offended, they also have created followers and supporters. The Dr. Pepper ad discussed in both the NPR and Huffington Post ads received more support than criticism about the evolution parody. Many people commented on its humor and cleverness while others still took no issue with the ad itself despite their beliefs in creationism. The majority of comments dealt more with the product than the issue of evolution. Most people stated their love of the soda, and some simply made fun of the ad and the issue.

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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