If man was literally created in God’s image, He gave us a sense of humor, right? Or did we evolve that way?
Judging from the response to a new one-off ad that Dr Pepper put up on its Facebook page, a parody of the 1965 illustration “Progress of Man,” it looks like we still need to “teach the controversy.” As Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon wrote:
On Thursday, Dr. [sic] Pepper posted a new ad on Facebook explaining the “evolution of flavor” with a riff on the famous evolution of man illustration that shows how homo got sapien. The ad traces the path from a knuckle dragger through the “Pepper discovery” to the final silhouette of a happy, naked Dr. [sic] Pepper drinker…
Among the comments (also via David Mendez of Tucson Weekly):
“I ain’t no freakin’ chimp.”
“this photo is in very poor taste and certainly not something I want to identify with!!!”
“I didn’t come from no ape the great creator made me GOD!!!!!!!”
“I’m a full time pastor. I love Dr. [sic] Pepper. I have both a sense of humor and the ability to not blow every little thing out of proportion. If this offends you, I invite you to turn off you computer, grow up, and stop giving Christians a bad name. Thanks in advance.”
“Just lost my business! As an avid drinker of Dr. [sic] Pepper, I can assuredly say that I would never drink Dr. [sic] Pepper ever again. If they think their soda’s are good enough to make people forget their faith, they are simply fooling themselves.”
“The soft drink company seems to have a great deal more fans of this ad than detractors, though,” wrote Mendez. “A number of Facebook users came out in force to challenge what people were writing, while others decided to just laugh at it.”
To Jonathan Salem Baskin of Ad Age, it was just bad marketing, “goofy content without any intention of selling anything to anybody in particular,” he wrote.
With nothing to say beyond a thin joke, such content opens the door for engagement on things other than soda pop, like science in this case … or politics, or history or any other topic about which the brand really doesn’t want to have a discussion.
“It goes to show how protests can spread like wildfire in social media, where outrage—and counteroutrage—are just a click away,” wrote Tim Nudd of Adweek, who also called the ad “a dumb joke” (and a “cliched image” in the headline).
“Of course, the creationists should have expected Dr. Pepper [sic] to come down on the side of science,” cracked Salon‘s Williams. “He is a doctor, after all.”
But it’s not like the ad really does that anyway. As Robert T Gonzalez of io9 argued, this was hardly a political statement—or any kind of statement—on the order of the recent Oreo and Chick-Fil-A kerfuffles.
…the soda company’s tongue is planted so firmly in its cheek here that it’s practically poking through the other side. This is not about Dr Pepper pronouncing its pro-evolutionary stance, it’s about selling soda with some high-concept ad-design. This shit’s not even scientifically accurate, for crying out loud; conflating this ad with a pro-evolutionary agenda is insulting to actual concepts surrounding human evolution.
If that analysis seems obvious to you, congratulations. You are capable of dissecting the subtleties of an ad campaign (which, let’s face it, really aren’t that subtle) that has thrown a considerable segment of the internet into one of the dumbest shouting matches in recent memory.
But perhaps the best comment of all came from theatheism subreddit:
Do you think all 23 delicious flavors can come together like that by chance?”
And we beg of you, Salon, and DP Facebook fans, don’t put a period in Dr Pepper. The occasional typo aside, we’re all intelligent(ly designed) enough to learn that.