Dr Pepper is prodding pop icon Axl Rose to release his long-awaited recording, titled “Chinese Democracy,” with a promise to give everyone in America a free Dr. Pepper if he comes through this year.
The key element in Dr Pepper’s offbeat promotion is a Web/blog site www.chinesedemocracywhen.blogspot.com where Guns N’ Roses fans are invited to post messages encouraging Axl to do his thing and opine on whether the recording will be out this year. The oxymoronic title of Rose’s 17-year work in progress suggests the curious alliance Dr Pepper is seeking to achieve by tying its brand to his enduring Guns N’ Roses bandwagon.
“Dr Pepper thinks the world needs more Guns N’ Roses,” said Dr Pepper spokesman Greg Artkop. “And we struck a nerve here, because the fans are going nuts over this.”
Executives at Geffen Records, Rose’s recording label presumably have experienced chronic angst over the album. Rose has reportedly racked up $13 million in production costs—rendering it the most expensive rock album ever—working with a changing cast of musicians and four producers in at least three recording studios.
The fans Dr. Pepper is targeting represent a core demographic of 18-to-35-year-old people who it perceives to be both Guns N’ Roses fans and Dr Pepper drinkers. Artkop said Dr Pepper is seeking to tie its “mythology” of the soft drink made from 23 secret flavors to the legendary status of the rock band: “The link is what’s cool today.”
Since the blog site went up on Tuesday night, it has drawn 15 pages of messages, according to Artkop, who pointed to a piece in the New York Post as one reason for the big initial response.
The soft drink brand is hoping to generate good vibrations from the campaign. Dr Pepper has not consulted Rose about it, but presumes he will approve, Artkop said.
Meanwhile, Rose—the group’s only original member—has been content to tour with a reconstituted Guns N’ Roses group, absent the group’s signature guitarists Slash and Buckethead.
Those two former band mates are specifically excluded from the free soda promotion. (Retailers will presumably be able to readily identify them.) Every other U.S. consumer will be able to access an online coupon for a free Dr. Pepper if and when Rose’s epic opus is issued this year.