How Dr. Pepper Does Real-Time Brand Storytelling - Insights
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How Dr. Pepper Does Real-Time Brand Storytelling


3 minute read

WWDPD? When thinking through how to approach their brand marketing game plan, Shaun Nichols, VP of Integrated Content Marketing for Dr. Pepper Snapple Group simply asks: “What would Dr. Pepper do?”

Or more precisely, Nichols and her team try to tell stories that relate to the brand’s mantra: “being one of a kind.” “In this day in age, they don’t care about what you’re selling, but why you’re selling it,” she told the audience during her panel at the 2014 AdAge Digital Conference. “We believe ‘one of a kinds’ make the world a better place.”

That concept has allowed the brand to tell a variety of different stories about one of a kind people, journeys, experiences, and events. By tossing out the old marketing playbook, and understanding that in today’s digital universe, consumers have the choice of when they want to listen, how they want to listen, and even what they want to hear from brands, Dr. Pepper has been able to broadcast their message loud and clear. Here’s how:

They listen to their fans

Internet culture is where we start to pay attention to what the consumers are saying back to us, said Nichols. These two-way conversations, however, require a lot of improvisation. While Dr. Pepper may plan content at the beginning of the year, they won’t hesitate to activate stories as they hit.

Steve Baer, managing partner at Code and Theory, the creative agency partner running Dr. Pepper’s social program, says they’ve found great stories just by listening carefully. When skater Mike Mo Capaldi tweeted about his love for the beverage, he was thrilled when he was called to make a skating video with Dr. Pepper.

The biggest score, however, came when Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens posted about the brand. Apparently, his ‘one-of-a-kindness’ is the fact that he can sing opera in seven languages. Dr. Pepper got together with him to shoot a three minute film, and suddenly local news picked up the story, followed by blogs, and then the national media.Screenshot 2014-04-09 11.50.38.png

They keep the conversation going

In December, The Ravens won a game in which Tucker scored all 18 points, and the game announcer actually said, “holy Dr. Pepper.” That sound bite was replayed on ESPN, and resulted in tons of earned media. Baer and his team bought six different containers of Dr. Pepper, and FedExed them to Tucker to congratulate him on the win, and he responded by posting a photo of the gift on Instagram. Guess what? The story was picked up again in the media.

Fast forward to the end of the season. Tucker had the chance to play in the Pro Bowl, which relies on fan votes. Dr. Pepper stepped in by asking its 16 million fans on Facebook to support him. Tucker’s agent said Dr. Pepper was a big reason why he was voted in.

They learn as they go

Despite these epic successes, there have been bumps along the way. When Facebook went public, Dr. Pepper posted a photo of a can with a wig and called it “Mike Pepperburg.” Not the worst social media faux pas, but Nichols’ team knew pretty quickly that this approach wasn’t really true to the brand. “Our role is not to lose sight of what our brand belief is, but to conform to what our brand beliefs are,” she explained.

If you’re doing it right, said Nichols, you won’t be able to tell whether a post is coming from the brand or from its passionate fans.

By Dawn Papandrea, NewsCred Contributor

Photo courtesy of Justin Tucker’s Instagram