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Dr Pepper's Facebook ad is the latest riff on a 1965 evolutionary graphic, which apparently still has the power to provoke. (Dr Pepper/Facebook)

Dr Pepper's Evolution Ad Strikes A Nerve With Some Christians

by April Fulton
Sep 18, 2012

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April Fulton

I'm a Pepper, You're a Pepper, but clearly, some people are not Peppers.

Dr Pepper's new Facebook ad campaign featuring an ape moving from all-fours, to seeing a soda on a rock, to an upright man, enjoying a Pepper, is apparently red meat to some creationists who are loudly expressing outrage at the idea that humans evolved from soda-discovering apes.

"I ain't no freaking chimp. No more Dr Pepper for my household," reads a typical comment from an offended reader. But other readers responded, defending the ad as funny and not an endorsement of evolution — just an ad. But in the end, does it work as a marketing tool?

Aren't advertisers always straddling the line between provocative and offensive, in order to stand out?

The reality is, the Dr Pepper ad is the latest in a long line of food ads that offend various groups of religious people. Burger King offended Hindus by seating a goddess atop a hamburger. McDonald's took a hit from Muslims when it released a Power Ranger with squiggly designs on the base that look like the Arabic word for Muhammad to some people. These and nine more are helpfully listed on a blog called "11 Points Because Top 10 Lists Are for Cowards."

But the Pepper ad is also not new. It's one of thousands of parodies of the now infamous scientific illustration of evolution from 1965 called "March of Progress." And it's amazing that these ads "still have the power to offend," says AdWeek's blog, AdFreak. "Once again, though, it goes to show how protests can spread like wildfire in social media, where outrage — and counteroutrage — are just a click away."

Note that these food-related "outrages" have registered nowhere near the social media mania generated by Newsweek's cover story on "MUSLIM RAGE" this week — yet.

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