Why Dr Pepper Is Ditching ' One of a Kind'

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Dr Pepper is no longer One of a Kind. Or at least it won't be marketed that way anymore.

In a strategic shift, the brand is ending its "Always One of a Kind" campaign in favor of a new effort called "The One You Crave." Ads by Deutsch L.A. show a new character called "Crave Rider" who shows up on a jet ski riding a wave of the soda.

Dr Pepper debuted "Always One of a Kind" in 2012 with a spot showing hundreds of Pepper fans taking to the streets touting their originality by wearing T-shirts describing what makes them unique. While the tagline only lasted five years, Dr Pepper has a long history of playing up its uniqueness in marketing, including a slogan used in the 1970s that declared it as "the most original soft drink ever."

But the brand decided to shift course to a more product-focused message after doing intensive consumer research. "In a day in age where everyone hypes uniqueness and everyone talks about individuality and everyone says everyone is special and everyone gets a trophy, they don't need Dr Pepper to tell them to be unique," said Derek Dabrowski, the brand's VP-brand marketing and content. Instead, the brand wants to focus on why people drink it. "And it's not because we are celebrating everyone's individuality," he said. "It's because we are an indulgent, fun treat when they are ready to indulge in a soda. So we wanted to get back more to talking about the product."

The campaign comes as soda continues to face headwinds driven partly by health concerns. The category in 2016 was surpassed by bottled water as the largest beverage category by volume, industry tracker Beverage Marketing Corp. confirmed last week.

But Dr Pepper has fared better than most big soda brands. The brand grew dollar sales by 0.9% in the 52-week period ending Feb. 25, according to a recent Wells Fargo report citing Nielsen data. Dr Pepper finished the period at 10% market share among regular soda. Coke, the top brand with 23.7% share, experienced a 1.1% dollar sales decline in the period.

Dr Pepper's new campaign continues its recent character-driven marketing approach. The brand's football season marketing has used a quirky stadium concessions character named Larry Culpepper who delusionally thinks he invented the college football playoff. Diet Dr Pepper has its own character named Lil' Sweet, a diminutive rock 'n' roller who in ads pops up in people's homes plugging the diet soda as a sweet afternoon reward.

Said Mr. Dabrowski: "We recognize our role in people's lives. We are a soda. We are not curing world hunger. We are not going out and doing anything heavy handed. We are a fun treat. And so we are trying to embody that in our communications."

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