A Jetskiing Hunk Rides Waves of Dr Pepper in Deutsch’s Cartoony New Ads

Meet CraveRider, who's not quite as cool as he seems

If you’re craving some highly caffeinated, self-consciously wacky commercials starring a human-cartoon pitch-dude riding a jet ski, Dr Pepper has the ad campaign for you.

Dropping today, the ads introduce the brawny, feather-maned “CraveRider,” who channels the manically manly commercial personas perfected through the years by Terry Crews, Ric Flair and Randy “Macho Man” Savage, among others.

Like Crews, CraveRider, a souped-up Dr Pepper delivery guy, steers his jet ski through people’s homes and other unexpected locations. (These include a miniature golf course and a rickety mountain bridge.) He also cribs Flair’s “Wooooo!” catchphrase at one point, and sports the Nature Boy’s hairstyle circa 1985.

Of course, Savage really established this style of loud, harmless lunacy as a commercial genre in his snappy ads for Slim Jim a generation ago. CraveRider both embraces and spoofs such outsized swagger and bravado. While gung-ho and boisterous, he’s also cautious and inept. (Dude runs out of product at inopportune moments, and refuses to deliver if wolves are in the vicinity.)

“We put the spotlight back on our product versus focusing on the individuality of the consumer” with the brand’s previous campaign, “Always One of a Kind,” says client vp of brand marketing and content Derek Dabrowski. “We’ve found it’s a more persuasive and motivating message when we can talk about Dr Pepper as the one you crave.”

Catch CraveRider’s wet, wild antics in a pair of spots below, directed with cheeky aplomb by Ulf Johansson, much lauded for his Snickers commercials:

“We set out to bring the idea of cravings to life in a way that was representative of the brand’s personality,” says Ryan Lehr, creative director at Deutsch, which developed the campaign. “Dr Pepper fans will tell you that the craving is a very unique and powerful thing, and what could be more powerful than a man riding a personal watercraft on a wave of Dr Pepper? Also, ‘crave’ and ‘wave’ rhyme, which was really helpful when it came to writing the theme song.”

Actually, CraveRider’s goofy ballads—”He’s going to back up now, ‘cuz he’s scared of getting rabies!”—lend a further air of familiarity, because let’s face it, we’ve heard this kind of thing before.

In fact, the whole concept seems so tried and true, some viewers may find it a tad too derivative. That said, it manages to entertain by taking cues from the past and tossing in some curves. (Frankly, that beats a wholly original bad idea any day.)

"If someone had to ride into your living room and soak your carpet with Dr Pepper, you'd want it to be him."
Deutsch's Ryan Lehr on actor Kyle Lowder

“CraveRider, for all his action-hero gusto and bravado, is still very human and flawed,” says Lehr. “Things don’t always work out as he plans.”

Soap opera actor Kyle Lowder was chosen from 300 actors who auditioned for the part. “He brought a certain vulnerability to what was a very physically demanding role,” says Lehr. “Plus, Kyle’s an extremely charming and handsome guy. If someone had to ride into your living room and soak your carpet with Dr Pepper, you’d want it to be him.”

During the selection process, “the director had the actors use an office chair to simulate the vehicle in auditions, admittedly not the easiest thing to control,” Lehr says. “No brakes on those little wheels—so more than a few auditions ended with the actor spinning out of frame or crashing.”

Ah well, that’s showbiz.

At the shoots, “the set designers were very busy,” Lehr recalls. “There was a lot of broken furniture and props to reset, especially when you destroy a living room with each take. After the fourth or fifth take, we started to feel bad for our actor, who was repeatedly sprayed in the face with gallons of Dr Pepper.”