Diet Dr Pepper's fabulously dressed miniature singing mascot is back for a second round of commercials … and they're still pretty sweet.
Justin Guarini, best known as the runner-up in the first season of American Idol, plays Lil' Sweet in the campaign from Deutsch, which launched with two ads last year. In the previous work, the character (who dresses extravagantly and riffs about his own actions in falsetto) rescued people craving sweets but not calories.
Now, he's rewarding men who do their chores.
The newest spot, "Laundry," launched Sunday during the Broncos-Patriots AFC Championship Game. In it, a woman praises her husband's folding skills when Guarini, decked out in silver lamé with hair and a scarf somewhere on the magenta spectrum, pops out of the dryer to deliver a can of soda and a load of delicates (he's apparently also having an affair with the wife).
A second ad, "Playhouse," aired earlier this month and stars a father assembling his daughter's bright pink playhouse. When Guarini pops out of the child-sized door in a cloud of pink smoke, the little girl has exactly the right response (she is possibly the only sane person in the campaign so far).
The idea is absurd enough to entertain, and nicely serves the tagline "The Sweet One," though what that actually means is less clear—probably something along the lines of "Better than other diet sodas."
Despite what seems like a pretty obvious Prince influence, Guarini contends the character is a general glam rocker who is not based on any single figure. Deustch also denies he's based on Prince. (Nobody is confusing him for Ziggy Stardust, though … and some commenters seem to think it actually is The Purple One.)
Still, if the approach manages to feel fresh, that's because it's so far over the top that it reads as parody. The brand probably can't count on appearing on one of the pop god's album covers, however.
There's also a less obvious and more contemporary resemblance. In two of the spots—"Self Employed" from 2015, and the new "Playhouse" ad—Lil' Sweet announces his entrance by singing his name on a two-note melodic sequence that's a dead ringer for the titular vocal hook from Maroon 5's "Sugar," released in January 2015, just before the Diet Dr Pepper campaign's launch in February.
Coincidence? We think not. But we're assuming Maroon 5 vetoed "Aspartame" because it just didn't have the same ring to it.
Client: Dr Pepper Snapple Group/Diet Dr Pepper
Jim Trebilcock – Chief Marketing Officer
Jaxie Alt – SVP, Director of Marketing
Derek Dabrowsk – Director – Dr Pepper
Scott Smith – Brand Manager – Diet Dr Pepper
Michael Johnson – Associate Brand Manager, Diet Dr Pepper
Shaun Nichols – VP, Integrated Content
Sharon Leath – Director, Integrated Content
Amanda Breaux – Manager, Integrated Content:
Chief Creative Officer, North America: Pete Favat
Executive Creative Director: Brett Craig
Creative Director: Ryan Lehr
Creative Director: Erick Mangali
Senior Art Director: Chris Adams
Senior Copywriter: Ross Cavin
Director of Integrated Production: Vic Palumbo
Executive Integrated Producer: Megan Meloth
Senior Integrated Producer: Lauren May:
Account Management Credits:
Group Account Director: Adam Graves
Account Director: Helen Murray
Account Supervisor: Kyle Webster
Senior Account Executive: Kate DeMallie
Account Coordinator: Alex Neiman:
Group Planning Director: Mitch Polatin
Associate Planning Director: Jessica Friedman
Account Planner: Sabena Suri:
Director of Integrated Business Affairs: Abilino Guillermo
Senior Business Affairs Manager: Teri Donner:
Director or Broadcast Traffic: Carie Bonillo
Broadcast Traffic/Talent Payment Coordinator: Terence Dowling:
CEO, North America: Mike Sheldon
President, Los Angeles: Kim Getty
Live Action Production Company: Tool of North America
Director: Benji Weinstein
Managing Director-Live Action / Executive Producer: Oliver Fuselier
Executive Producer: Lori Stonebraker
Line Producer: Jason Manz
Editorial Company: Cut + Run
Editor: Frank Effron
Assistant Editor: Connie Chuang
Executive Producer: Carr Schilling
Head of Production: Amburr Farls
Producer: Annabelle Dunbar-Whittaker
Executive Producer: Robert Owens
VFX Producer: Jennie Burnett Fischer
On Set VFX Supervisor: Vernon WIlbert
Lead Flame Artist: Noah Caddis
Lead Flame Artist: Matt Welch
Flame Artist: Sean Wilson
Roto/Paint Artists: Stephanie Sweeney
Colorist: Siggy Ferstl
Senior Color Producer: Matt Moran
Composed Music, Credits and Track Info: Stock music licensed from Music Beyond
Sound Design/Audio Post Company: Lime Studios
Sound Designer/Mixer: Mark Meyuhas
Assistant: Peter Lapinski
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan
Shoot Location: Pasadena and Van Nuys, CA (Nov. 9-13, 2015)