The Manly Diet Cola

Pepsi MaxI was riding my bike downtown today when I came across this outdoor ad for Pepsi Max. The billboard features a Pepsi Max can that looks like it’s been crushed by a mighty hand along with this headline:

“The first diet cola for men.”

This billboard reminded me of the TV ads for this product that came out a few months ago. You remember the Super Bowl, “I’m Good” commercials? In each spot, men are shown in various dangerous and painful situations. A guy gets hit in the head with a golf club. Another has a bowling ball dropped on him. And after each sequence, the injured actor says, “I’m Good.” The voiceover says:

 “Men can take anything. Except the taste of a diet cola.”

Well, fear no more gentleman, because Pepsi Max is the answer. It’s a zero calorie, sugar-free, carbohydrate-free, ginseng infused soda just for men. And to get the message across that it’s macho to drink Pepsi Max, the ads try their darnedest to be as stereotypically manly as possible, complete with pain, injury and plenty of crushed cans.

Apparently when the product was first introduced, it was called Diet Pepsi Max. But they’ve even eliminated the “diet” from the product’s name to make it sound just a little manlier. I don’t get it. I know plenty of gents who drink Diet Pepsi without embarrassment. I can’t imagine Pepsi Max tastes much different. And if a fella really wanted to get a good jolt of caffeine, I’d imagine he would turn to an energy drink instead since Pepsi Max has less caffeine than the average energy drink. So is this soda trying to compete with other diet colas? Or is it competing with more highly caffeinated energy drinks?

I think my problem is that I’m not a fan of gender-focused products where gender doesn’t really matter…like food. Luna bars are the “whole nutrition bar for women.” And now Pepsi Max is the diet soda for men.  Sure, ladies and gents have different nutritional needs, but who’s to say a guy can’t enjoy a Luna bar and a Diet Pepsi every now and then?

I really think that guys who want a calorie-free drink will continue to drink diet. And men who want an extra hit of energy will continue to turn to Red Bull and Rockstar. I hate to burst your carbonated bubble, Pepsi, but Pepsi Max is just another diet cola.

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Filed under Advertising, Billboards

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