Diet Dr Pepper’s Lil’ Sweet Is Back, and Sweet-Talking All Over Your House, in New Ads

Justin Guarini reprises his 'glam' role

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.  

CREDITS

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:

Agency: Deutsch

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:

Account Planning:

Group Planning Director: Mitch Polatin

Associate Planning Director: Jessica Friedman

Account Planner: Sabena Suri: 

Business Affairs/Traffic:

Director of Integrated Business Affairs: Abilino Guillermo