When Deutsch LA set out to depict The Manliest Low-Calorie Soda in the History of Mankind or—as you may call it—Dr Pepper TEN, it went all the way back to a time when men were men, or at least wore non-ironic beards: the 1970s.
“Mountain Man” continues the tongue-in-cheek, hyper-manly advertising that launched the low-calorie soft drink launched in late 2011. But rather than looking at action movies for inspiration, as our original “Not for Women” spot did, our creatives were inspired by 70s beer commercials and TV shows like “Grizzly Adams.”
“That’s when man advertising really started, and it was a little more earnest than now,” says Ryan Lehr, associate creative director. “They were like, ‘Hey guys, let’s go camping this weekend and while we’re out there, let’s shoot a beer commercial.’”
One of the most influential ads was a 1974 Hamm’s Beer commercial, which is basically a minute of a guy driving a live bear around in a Jeep and drinking at least two beers while talking to loggers. Not to be outdone, the bear in our commercial paddles the canoe!
Part of the appeal of “Mountain Man” was going back to a time before tablet computers and power steering, when life seemed (to us today, anyway) a little simpler. And the spot recalls that simplicity by borrowing from the rougher look of the 70s commercials.
“There’s no slickness to the old commercials. It’s almost as if they shot one take and said, ‘That’s a wrap,’” says associate creative director Erick Mangali.
The look and feel was further shaped by director Stacy Wall, a veteran chronicler of manhood through LeBron James Nike commercials. He pushed Deutsch LA to include an old-fashioned jingle, going so far as to sing a line one off the top of his head in the initial director’s call.
The jingle—which starts out with what is destined to be an immortal line, “No land is a no man’s land to me”—was inspired by Grizzly Adams, itself a TV series about a guy who is friends with bears. The Grizzly Adams theme, “Maybe,” was played throughout auditions.
That was because they wanted someone who could pull off a modern-day Grizzly Adams. They found one in actor Blake Gibbons, whose gravelly voice exactly matched the fake one Ryan used when pitching the ad. “We wanted someone who could play it straight,” Ryan says. “We didn’t want it to seem like a parody.”