The Dr. Pepper/Kentucky Fried Chicken Show

By JoCo May 29, 2007

I’ve been watching with equal parts interest and disgust the beginnings of this whole Band in a Bubble thing – in case you haven’t heard, it’s a reality show in which the band Cartel goes into a glass house/recording studio in NYC for 20 days to record their next album. Today I found my way to a post about it on The Lefsetz Letter and then a response from one of the band members. I like Bob Lefsetz and a lot of the time he’s spot on, but sometimes what he writes sounds like the kind of thing an old man would scream to nobody in particular from a rocking chair on the front porch. His post is all about how he’s sick of marketing plans and misses The Sex Pistols; the band’s response is about how they know it’s kind of lame but they want to get exposure and sell records.

I’m going to come out and comment on this conflict that nobody cares about by saying, “Meh.” Let me just check here…nope, I don’t care about it either, it’s just not that interesting. I don’t fault Cartel for deciding to do this, and I don’t fault Bob Lefsetz for hating the show. They’re both right. I would have done it myself if I had been invited (depending on the details of the deal of course), and lots of people would think I was a sellout, and lots of people would hear about me and buy my stuff. Boring. Not as boring as me alone in a bubble for 20 days though.

What I do think is astounding is the degree to which the sponsors have made it difficult to actually watch the content of the show. As I understand it, there will be 4 edited half-hour shows on TV. On the website there are 24 cameras running 24 hours a day, a band blog, etc. Kind of an interesting shift I think – suddenly the bulk of the content of this piece of entertainment is online instead of on television, and it’s totally live, unpredictable and thus very inexpensive content. Here’s the kicker though – to watch those cameras you have to register with your email, home phone and address AND you have to enter a special code you get from a Dr. Pepper bottlecap (mine was H9S4AEAARJ9Q by the way). This gives you 24 hours of access and then you’re shut off from the website. You can’t even read the blog (!) without entering a new code (and buying a Dr. Pepper) every day. And the kitchen camera can only be accessed with a code from participating Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants. Boy, I bet some awesome stuff happens in the kitchen.

What on earth could they be thinking? From a marketing perspective, the whole point of a web presence like this is having some content that other people can link to, right? Or am I the idiot here? Are they really going to sell that many more Dr. Peppers and 3-piece meals by locking down the content this way? Wouldn’t they be a lot better off with the exposure they’d get just making it all freely available all the time with banner ads and coupons and such?

P.S. Dr. Pepper is gross.


Luke M says

What, you don't like prune soda?

Have they already written the songs? Watching them work out arrangements might be mildly interesting from a technical standpoint.

Say, Jonathan, you know what I bet would be fun? You recording and posting your cover of "Vienna" ;)

Come play San Jose!

The Chief says

Agreed - they have totally missed the point. Though it is hard to believe, lots of larger corporations (and more importantly, their agencies) don't understand the viral marketing ecosystem.

Nat JM says

I'm with you on the free content thing.

This is another example of corporations thinking short term (eg immediate sales) rather than long term (eg brand exposition over repeat visits to the website etc).

I've got to admit though that i am kind of curious about this show now - so maybe the marketing is working in a kind of strange reverse way? Mmmm, something to think about...

Gle3nn says

If there was only enough air for one person to last the full 20 days and they had to fight it out to survive, that might capture my interest.
I keep hearing about this cover of Vienna. Is that referring to the Ultravox song?

Darth Paradox says

I'm actually not astounded at all. I'd be surprised if they made it easy.

They're blinded by the idea of trying to extract as much money as possible from this "internet" thing.

AverageJon says

Everybody has different goals.

Dr Pepper just wants people to buy soda. KFC (the actual company name which no longer refers to a southern state, a cooking process, or a kind of meat) just want people to by by food. They don't care if you watch the show or get to know and like the band.

Paul and Storm says

I was with you right up until the "Dr. Pepper is gross" part.

Dr. Pepper is the shizznat.

*Fresca* is gross. Tastes like carbonated latex paint.

Paul (not speaking for Storm)

Chris says

Dr Pepper tastes like cough medicine and I hate KFC. But... I do like CArtel alot.

Kerrin says

I liked Dr. Pepper, before I stopped drinking soda, I hate KFC, it's too fatty, it's just like eating a lump of fat IMHO.

I won't be able to watch the 'awesome' show, so I'll have to cope with Big Brother that starts tonight in the UK. I have to admit I'm addicted to BB.

hugh says

Gle3nn: There's a short clip here. Unfortunately, there are some problems with the audio but you will at least know what people are talking about.

hugh says

You'll want to download that before you try to play it unless you have a wicked fast connection.

Eric Ginsberg says

Let's not forget that the Sex Pistols were put together by two guys who owned a clothing store, to better market their punk-rock fashion.

I sincerely hope that someone with a code finds a way to rip the content, while removing any reference to Dr. Pepper. I actually sat and read the entire Dr. Pepper press release on this and it only mentions the band members' names and that this is their second album. It really harps on Dr. Pepper. It's crap.

That said, I think that more bands should do this bubble thing, just without the sponsorship. I mean, what's Dr. Pepper really doing for them? Providing the bubble and the advertising. There are plenty of bands out there that can get together some webcams in a house/studio and do this, who have a big enough fan base to draw substantial attention by just mentioning this on their website.

I might catch an episode of this on TV, but I don't pay for entertainment, let alone high fructose corn syrup-infused beverages or hydrogenated oil-filled chicken.

spamwise says

“Diet Dr Pepper tastes more like Regular Dr Pepper”™
...More than regular Dr. Pepper does?!?
I've never really understood how that could be possible.

yukaduk says

I'm still trying to figure out why Kentucky Fried Chicken uses the theme song "Sweet Home Alabama". And who Doctor Pepper was.

compwalla says

Um, Dr. Pepper is the nectar of the gods, thank you very much.

I could not write a single line of code without a can of Diet Dr. Pepper parked next to my keyboard.

But I agree the marketing scheme is beyond lame.

compwalla says

The guy who invented Dr. Pepper worked at a soda fountain and fell in love with a doctor's daughter. The doctor didn't think a soda jerk could properly provide for his daughter so the doc discouraged the match, eventually breaking them up.

Soda jerk invents fabulous new nectar of the gods and names it after the doctor to prove a soda jerk could become rich and famous.

The End

Charlie Truck says

I remember that they tried to market Dr. Pepper here in Europe in the 70s, it disappeared really quickly and I haven't tried one since. Is it really supposed to taste like prunes? And what about that root-bear stuff you guys drink- unspeakable!

And KFC, never been there. I’m Swedish but I live in France and I'm afraid my poor children would grow up without a mother if I was caught with one of those greasy bags!

You Americans keep doing what you do best, brilliant pop music, and let the French provide you with food (the opposite would really be hell...)!

Luke M says

Good root beer is wonderful. Henry Weinhard's makes a decent one.

Dr. Pepper doesn't really have prunes in it. The cough-syrupy taste comes from cherry flavoring. Supposedly the original concept was that it was supposed to taste like a soda fountain smelled, with all the flavors mixed together. It was successful enough to inspire imitators, notably Coca-Cola's Mr. Pibb. I do not personally care for it.

KFC is a mixed bag, pardon the expression. Some of their food is OK and some of it is revolting. I think Safeway fries a better chicken strip, frankly.

hugh, thanks for the link! 1970s Billy Joel is good stuff and JoCo's arrangement is neat. Still think it needs the full home-studio treatment...

Ken says

Code Monkey offer buy you soda?

Muncher says

P.P.S You are dead to me.

JY says

I don't know if I really believe the band member who says producers don't do anything to their music. Someone is likely spending a lot of time editing the music to give it a produced sound.

Len says

I love Dr. Pepper.

KFC has come to be known as KFD around here. Guess why.

Gle3nn says

Thanks Hugh for the clip. That was great. I had to download it cause my cable connection provider bought out the previous company, slowed down my connection speed, then offered me a "special deal" to get my full speed back.
The real Dr. Pepper you can buy in Texas is good. The altered stuff that they sell everywhere else is at least better than Coke. I miss Josta though.

Two bands in the bubble that have to battle it out! That would get my attention. Maybe.

Shaded Spriter says

I just noticed today you were featured on the front page of youtube - it is a recording of Baby got Back with Paul and Storm...

Also a Code Monkey flash video was 4th place daily on Newgrounds yesterday.

Paul says

I was attacked by a root bear once. I'm serial.

Nat JM says

I've had Dr Pepper a few times (they might not market it in the rest of Europe but it is available in the UK, though not a widespread drink) & it tastes alright...

Anyway, i still think they should care more about long term branding than selling a few more cans now. After all, repeat customers are the best, aren't they?

That was my 2 pence worth of marketing...

I'm at work now but will probably check the clip later on when i get home - that's how perverted i am, on one hand complaining about it, and on the other hand having this incongruous curiosity about it!

Jackson says

Tell you what sounds really gross but is actually tasty: Dr. Pepper with milk. Pour half a glass full of Dr. Pepper, then fill it up the rest of the way with milk, and enjoy. Although, if you don't like Dr. Pepper to begin with, it's probably going to be even less appealing with the milk thrown in there.

Charlie Truck says

Well, I said I was Swedish; we have root bears living deep in our forests. They are smaller than grizzlies, but meaner, and as they mate only the first of May there are only a few left.

You might have some in Minnesota. Please remember to sing them a Swedish lullaby, or any ABBA-song, they like that. They might go for IKEA too, I haven't tried that.

sindex says

Dr. Pepper is awesome. Sadly I gave up all soda, so I don't get to enjoy it anymore, but it *was* my favorite. Plus, it cures radiation sickness*, and that alone makes it worth its weight in gold for our inevitable post-apocalyptic future.

But this whole idea for a show and it's obvious marketing tie-ins is just stupid. Let me join you in saying, "meh... who cares."

*(might not actually cure radiation sickness)

David says

I agree with everything except the last bit about Dr. Pepper being gross. It is awesome.

Jonathan Ramsey says

I know. I know. I'm commenting on week-old old posts.

That's just too easy, isn't it? Twenty DPs and twenty chicken meals to watch the whole kit. I say we lock down our content and get more fun sponsors.

From now on, to listen to lame MP3s and other content on, you must enter codes you get when you turn your shoes in at AMF Bowling Centers. The code from the under the tongue of a new pair of Steve and Barry's shoes will get you a day's worth of live Dog Bowl Cam feed on my site.

That's it! The gauntlet has been dropped, JC.

Oh, and all my best to you and yours!

Jonathan Ramsey says

Oh! Yeah!

And Dr. Pepper sucks. At least, the sweetener will help you poop!

Marek says

Well, I think the concept is pretty lame myself. But I applaud the band's attempts to get some coverage and exposure, It's a very tough gig these days. At any time, really.

I used to be an avid DP drinker before they started sliming it with ears of corn in an effort to sweeten it for less money. Between that and all the Aspartame neuron fusing chemicals, I had to stop drinking it for a while. I love how they claimed that no one would be able to tell the difference. No one with no taste buds perhaps.

Now, I can tolerate one once in a while. I just tried their retro product made with cane sugar and man, that was like a blast from the past though I don't remember it having quite that much sugar in it.

I would agree though that those fried headed toadies in corporate don't have a clue when it comes to Internet and what people really want or need. No concept of any kind of social much less corporate responsibility happening there.....I wonder if there is a Fair Trade Dr Pepper Knock Off around....But what the hell, selling poison is what they're all about, after all...

menamc says

Hmmm....Someone up there said

'I like the real Dr Pepper you get here in Texas.'

As far as I know, and I've been drinking it faithfully for 28 years, we have 'real' Dr. Pepper in Alabama too. Oh, also in TN, FL, MS, GA. Not real sure what you're drinking.

I LOVE Diet Dr Pepper Cherry Vanilla. Not crazy about the Berries and Cream though.

I switched to Diet about five years ago. but I have been a true DP fan all of my life.

Maria Howard says

aspartame is known to cause cancer in laboratory animals so be careful~'`