A couple weeks ago, I was stopped at the intersection of Fairfax and Beverly, and a billboard over the corner gas station offered me this:

photo via Brett Craig/CD

photo via Brett Craig/CD

While waiting for the left turn arrow, I pondered the billboard’s connotations. (Yes, it’s a long light.) A diet cola catered specifically toward men seems like an oxymoron in and of itself…if not just plain unnecessary. Like, does this mean that all other diet colas that have come before were created specifically for women? OR, were they created for all mankind, and if so, should we females be offended that the first gender-specific soda–a DIET soda, no less (honestly, which gender do you think generally throws more money at THAT industry?)–is marketed especially toward Dudes? Well, no, I’d really prefer to have the male-to-female salary gap closed before I throw a fit over not having a lady-tailored cola drink…

But I kind of love the billboard, and the entire Pepsi Max marketing campaign, even if it serves no other purpose for me than an object of amusement. I don’t know much about the world of advertising (I have seen a few episodes of Mad Men, though), but I like to imagine the sort of things that got tossed around that particular brainstorming session.

“Nothing flashy. The colors should be dark, sedate. The soda’s for men, so the signage should be simple.”
“Choose a font that’s easy to read. Men can’t understand those frilly fonts, like cursive and whatnot.”
“A slightly crushed can is the way to go. It appears a little world-worn, rough around the edges, like dudes. Also, it’s reminiscent of shotgunned beer cans being crushed against foreheads, so it works on a subliminal level, as well.”

There’s a couple other billboards around town that are even more…specific, let’s say.

photo via Brett Craig/CD

photo via Brett Craig/CD

photo via Brett Craig/CD

photo via Brett Craig/CD

“All men, no matter what age, are convinced they can have the body of Brad Pitt if only they tried. So they should look at this beverage like a step in the right direction. Also, any ad that has the word ‘boobs’ in it works on a subliminal level, as well.”
“What do all men have in common, no matter the demographic? The love of bacon. Except, of course, for the Muslims and kosher Jews, but we’ll reel those guys in with the man boobs spot.”

Oh, how the mind reels…

As it stands, the idea of a dude-specific soda just seems pretty fucking dumb. I mean, come on Pepsi! Don’t you remember what happened with Crystal Pepsi?! Or better yet, your top competitor’s attempt at cornering the grunge music loving, plaid shirt and combat boots wearing, Gen X demographic? (Okay, I totally bought into that second one, but I was a highly impressionable, sugar-lovin’ middle schooler.)

There is *one* thing that would make this whole Man Soda thing totally awesome, if you ask me. (Pay attention, Pepsi marketing team.) Just as you have to be over the age of 21 (or have a decent fake ID) to buy alcoholic beverages in the US, the same sort of rule should apply to the new Pepsi Max for Men. No, I don’t mean to suggest that only individuals over the age of 21 should be allowed to purchase your delicious (I’m sure, I’m sure) new beverage. No. I’m suggesting that some sort of rule and/or restriction should be put in place which would ensure that ONLY MEN (your target demographic, after all) are allowed to purchase said delicious beverage.

I know what you’re thinking. Outrageous! Sexist! Inflammatory! Perhaps. And, Dear Pepsi People, if your current sales of Pepsi Max for Men are reaching or surpassing your projected goals, then please disregard my suggestion. But if for some crazy, unforeseen reason your sales are slightly lackluster, then please consider the following. If a woman is denied purchase of your delicious new beverage, she will be outraged, yes. But also, her curiosity will be piqued. As she makes her way back to her car after being denied at the 7-11, she’ll wonder to herself, “What does Pepsi Max for Men have that regular Pepsi doesn’t?” And like a booze-loving teenager without the benefit of a quality fake ID, she’ll scan the parking lot for a kindly male stranger she can slip a wad of bills to and send inside to retrieve her forbidden prize, all the while thinking, “I have to have this precious nectar.”

For here is something you may not have considered, Dear Pepsi People. While dudes jonesin’ for a tasty diet soda may be a niche market of sorts, there’s an even nichier market that wields more power, more impulsive decision making, and more obsessive desire–Women Who Want What They Can’t Have.

Think about it. You know where to find me. And, you’re welcome.

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