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Conservative Christians criticize Dr Pepper ad, Calvin students don’t object

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A Dr Pepper advertising image angered some conservative Christians recently. The image depicts “The March of Progress,” with an early hominid finding Dr Pepper and then standing upright.

NPR reported that some creationists are angry that Dr Pepper would support evolution theory.

Calvin students interviewed had no problems with the image.

“If I drank Dr Pepper, I would not be offended by this ad,” said junior Jacob Vangeest.

“It’s just another cheap tactic,” said third-year student Dean Pettinga.

But should Christians be offended by the advertisement at all?

“No,” Pettinga said. “The point is to get people to think, ‘Ooh! Dr Pepper!’”

Junior Melissa Braun agreed, saying, “It’s a waste of time to be offended by advertisements.”

English major and junior student Trenton Heille thought there are more significant matters to address.

“Christians should care about issues like slavery or sex trafficking,” he said.  “An advertisement functions to entice viewers to buy a product. It does not further a view; it does not criticize any view. Its only function is to get you to think more often about the product.”

However, Heille also said that there are some advertisements Christians should protest.

“If the ad marginalizes or objectifies a group of people or an individual, then Christians ought to resist that marginalization or objectification,” Heille said.

Third-year student Joel Crevier concurred.

“I think there are appropriate times to be offended by ads. If they use a marginalized people group to poke fun at them, I think that can be inappropriate. Or if the image is overly graphic in terms of violence or sexuality, being offended could be an appropriate response,” he said.

Crevier added that protesting might not be the best response for creationists.

“I think there are other tactics they [creationists] could use,” he said. “By reacting negatively to an ad… your view is seen as a negative view rather than a positive action. Then it is easy to be misrepresented in your position.”

Crevier doesn’t believe a protest of Dr Pepper would be effective. “I think protesting only works in human rights issues,” he said.

On Dr Pepper’s Facebook page, which displays the image, most comments were disparaging remarks toward creationists.

“If it pisses off a fundy, I’ll drink it,” one user remarked.

“Sorry creationists,” another user said, “but contrary to what your backwards, hick school/church/presidential candidates/TV (no doubt Fox News)/fast food outlets/parents/children/patriotic propaganda/radio/Christian website tells you, Darwinian evolution HAPPENED.”

Third-year student Jordan Garling offered an explanation for creationists’ reactions.

“I knew very intelligent creationists from my church. And they see evolution as dehumanizing and animalizing human beings. And that’s obviously not Dr Pepper’s ad, but I could see how they could react negatively.”

This is not the first time a Dr Pepper advertisement has raised controversy.

In 2011, Dr Pepper released a video advertisement saying “Dr Pepper 10” (a soda with 10 calories) was specifically for men. Both men and women reacted negatively to the stereotypes used in the ad.

Pettinga believes Dr Pepper is only benefiting from the controversy.

“Any press is good press,” he said. “I would drink some now if I could.”

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