In March, the soft drink giant offered consumers a free Dr Pepper if the band released its long-awaited Chinese Democracy album in 2008. The offer was part of a “disruptive PR” campaign designed by AOR Ketchum, where a brand attaches itself to an ongoing news story to garner attention.
When the album was released on November 23, the Web site crashed, preventing some visitors from obtaining the redeemable coupon in the allotted 24-hour period. Though the company extended the offer to 42 hours, consumers still complained.
The result, say the lawyers for Guns N' Roses, was damaging for the band because it could be perceived as a co-promotional relationship that defrauded consumers.
The band's lawyers are demanding that the Plano, TX-based company apologize in full-page ads in several national newspapers, expand the offer for a longer period of time, and pay for the use of the band's publicity.
Ketchum deferred all questions to the soft drink company.
A Dr Pepper spokesperson e-mailed PRWeek on December 3 and said that the company was “disappointed that GNR's lawyers are turning a fun giveaway into a legal dispute.”
The spokesperson noted that the company had added a toll-free phone number for consumers to call for coupon requests.
He added that “this was one of the largest responses we have ever received for a giveaway.”
Earlier this year, Ketchum told PRWeek that it had pitched Dr Pepper's offer to the New York Post and the story was eventually picked up by print, radio, online, broadcast, and cable news outlets. It also launched a blog, chinesedemocracywhen.blogspot.com.
The effort targeted a male demographic, ages 18 to 34.