Lil' Sweet Slidin' Out on His Knees: The Story of Dr Pepper's Biggest Mascot

Deutsch L.A. and Keurig Dr Pepper took a risk on a character-driven campaign, and Justin Guarini delivered a refreshing victory

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You never really see him coming. One moment, you’re standing by the snack table at a party, or sitting in the break room at your quiet office job. The next, you’re craving a fizzy beverage with just a hint of sweetness. That’s when he emerges from the shadows (or a pool, or maybe a cake) with a can of Diet Dr Pepper and an unbridled rock star’s wail—both of which drastically outsize his tiny frame.

Keurig Dr Pepper’s (KDP) Lil’ Sweet—a tiny, ’80s-era rocker played impeccably by stage performer and American Idol alum Justin Guarini—has ascended from an eccentric ad character to a bona fide pop culture moment, joining a pantheon of enduring modern-day brand mascots, including Progressive’s Flo and Geico’s Gecko, as instantly recognizable.



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This story first appeared in the July 11, 2022, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.