Dr. Pepper's Guns N'Roses campaign gets a boost

NEW YORK: Ketchum worked with Dr. Pepper last week on a media outreach effort centered around the soft drink's promise to give every American a free can of soda if Guns N' Roses releases the long-awaited album Chinese Democracy sometime this year.

NEW YORK: Ketchum worked with Dr. Pepper last week on a media outreach effort centered around the soft drink's promise to give every American a free can of soda if Guns N' Roses releases the long-awaited album Chinese Democracy sometime this year.

Ketchum, AOR for Dr. Pepper parent company Cadbury Schweppes since 2006, publicized the cola's pledge by pitching it to the New York Post's Page Six, which ran stories March 26 and March 28. Print, radio, online, broadcast, and cable news reports picked up the story after reclusive lead singer Axl Rose expressed appreciation for Dr. Pepper on the band's Web site March 26 and Ketchum simultaneously issued a press release.

The agency also created a multimedia aspect to the effort, launching a blog (chinesedemocracywhen.blogspot.com) March 5 and using it to release Dr. Pepper's press release later that month.

The firm targeted men ages 18 to 34, Dr. Pepper's core customer demographic, with the endeavor, said Nick Ragone, SVP and director of Ketchum's communications media strategy group. The campaign's budget is undisclosed.

Brands such as Dr. Pepper face a challenge in creating blogs and other new media elements that appear consumer-generated, instead of looking like corporate Web sites, said Chris Kooluris, Ketchum senior media specialist.

“We didn't link to Dr. Pepper at all, and [the blog] looked so user-generated, it didn't look corporation-generated,” he said. “It had a sense of mystery, and it had a sense of satisfaction when you see that a big brand could be really cool if it stopped acting like a big brand and started acting like customers or fans.”

Dr. Pepper has no other events planned to promote its pledge of a free can of soda for every American except former guitarists Slash and Buckethead, but it will act if the album – more than 13 years in the making – is released or if Guns N' Roses makes a significant announcement, said Greg Artkop, Cadbury Schweppes director of corporate communications.

“The truth of it is, when it's appropriate, we'll talk about it,” he said. “But it's not like we went to the well and we're going to keep talking about it over and over again.”

The effort is one of the first projects from Ketchum's disruptive media group, Ragone added.

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