As any PR veteran will tell you, sometimes what you don't say cans the best intentions. The folks at Dr. Pepper couldn't foresee the holy wrath that would be visited upon them when they left a few words off a patriotic label.Back in October, Dr. Pepper printed up 41 million special cans adorned with the Statue of Liberty and three words from the Pledge of Allegiance: "One Nation ... Indivisible."
But in early February, someone filling the soda machine at an Iowa Baptist church school missed the words "under God
and took offense.
Students wrote letters, and then the religious-right American Family Association (AFA) peppered the pop maker with more than a peck of persnickety e-mails.
Meanwhile, the Freedom From Religion Foundation came to Dr. Pepper's defense - sort of - by praising the company for not mixing up flag waving and cross bearing. "So much after September 11 had related patriotism with piety, freethinkers felt stigmatized,
said group spokeswoman Annie Laurie Gaylor.
But both sides got it wrong, said Phillipa Dworkin, corporate comms VP at Dr. Pepper. All the soda maker wanted was to promote unity. The pledge was edited for space only. "God never came into the picture," said Dworkin, 15,000 e-mails later.
Luckily, Dr. Pepper ran out of the patriotic cans a couple of weeks after the PR lid blew off. The AFA, satisfied with Dr. Pepper's promise that it wouldn't print any more, apparently forgave the sin of omission.