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NEW YORK -- Earlier this year, Dr Pepper promised to give one can of soda to every American if Guns N' Roses delivered its latest album, "Chinese Democracy," according to Advertising Age.
Considering the album is 17 years in the making, it seemed like a safe bet, but now the album will be released at the end of November, meaning Dr Pepper's promise is coming due, reported Advertising Age.
"We never thought this day would come," Tony Jacobs, vice president of marketing at Dr Pepper, said in a statement. "But now that it's here all we can say is: The Dr Pepper's on us."
The company plans to give out the soda through a couponing strategy where consumers will need to register at the brand's Web site for a coupon to be redeemed at any retailer selling Dr Pepper, according to the report. These coupons, limited to one per person, will only be available for 24 hours beginning after midnight on Nov. 23.
"To be honest, when I saw it, I thought it was a safe bet," said Patrick West, vice president of experiential marketing at Zoom Media & Marketing, explaining he didn't think the album would actually come out. "I expect they will get a healthy return, in terms of total numbers redeemed. This stunt has a lot of legs behind it. But it's really risky, if only because of the cost of your goods. Obviously that's a bet Dr Pepper is willing to make."
Couponing and sampling experts said that the company could eventually shell out several million dollars in free soda, given the press the challenge has attracted. Similar tactics have been used by companies such as Taco Bell, who gave away free tacos tied to the World Series. But these often lead to additional purchases, such as a high-margin fountain soda, which is not as much of a possibility for Dr Pepper, the report stated. Last year it was estimated that Taco Bell spent $5.6 million advertising the promotion, while the giveaway itself cost under $1 million and generated priceless publicity. The stunt was successful enough that Taco Bell is repeating it this year.
"The publicity is worth a lot, no doubt about it. You have to measure it against the value of the PR," said Bob Goldin, executive vice president at Technomic. "Will it do anything to build loyalty, you've got to wonder. Those things generally don't, in my opinion. Consumers will feel good about the company for the time it takes them to drink the soda."
Ultimately, the promotion will work double-time for them, according to Dean Crutchfield, a brand consultant. He said in the Advertising Age report the offer is a good way for the company to re-engage with an older audience, maintain its core fans and introduce the brand to new consumers.
"What I like about this, at the end of the day, is they are riding two horses at one time, and that's what's important and unique here for Dr Pepper," he said in the report. "In branding, they say you're looking for more users, new users or new uses. Clearly they are not going to get new uses, but they are certainly aiming for new users. This is a smart deal that will get them a lot of publicity, depending on the amount of publicity that Guns N' Roses will get. That will be the acid test."