Guns N’ Roses Blast Dr Pepper Over Flubbed Chinese Democracy Promotion


December 1, 2008

Let me get this straight. Dr Pepper lays down the gauntlet for Axl Rose and dares him to release Chinese Democracy this year by promising to give everyone in America a free soda if the reclusive rocker can finally pull the trigger on the mythological unicorn of an album. So Axl delivers and … Dr Pepper doesn’t? Nice work, soda jerk.

Rose’s lawyer took a swipe at Dr Pepper last week, saying the drink maker didn’t deliver on its pledge to give out the free sodas. Keep in mind, GN’R had nothing to do with the stunt. (Though wouldn’t it be great if somehow this were all some bizarre viral campaign and you could hear Dr Pep jingles when you played the CD backwards, if that’s even possible?)

Los Angeles-based lawyer Alan Gutman penned a poison letter to Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. President and CEO Larry Young, calling the company’s online coupon-redemption scheme an “unmitigated disaster, which defrauded customers.” Gutman also insisted that the beverage maker extend its offer and place full-page apologies in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal.

Again, GN’R was not involved in the original campaign, but now that it has allegedly tanked, the attorney says he originally saw it as an “exploitation of my clients’ legendary reputation and their eagerly awaited album,” adding that the promotion “brazenly violated our clients’ rights.”

But here comes the kicker: The band is now seeking “appropriate payment … for the unauthorized use and abuse of their publicity and intellectual-property rights,” threatening to take legal action if Dr Pepper doesn’t clean up the sticky mess. Gutman argues that the whole idea of the campaign was to use interest in the album to hype sales of the drink, but now he’s upset that the “mocking undertones” of the online promotion represent a “raw and damaging commercial exploitation of our clients’ rights,” and that the whole thing is even more detrimental to the GN’R name because the soda scheme was botched.

Dr Pepper put out a press release in March offering a free soda to any American if Democracy came out before the end of the year. The notoriously litigious Rose didn’t take any action over the promotion, likely because he was busy remixing the album for the 900th time.

According to reports, the Dr Pepper Web site’s servers crashed under the crush of demand for the coupons, so the soda maker extended its offer one more day, though some fans still weren’t able to claim their soda via the site or a toll-free phone number.

“Dr Pepper was completely unprepared for the traffic to its site,” Gutman wrote in the letter, describing the promotion as a “complete fiasco.” Dr Pepper could not be reached for comment at press time. But just to summarize: Dr Pepper made the offer (mockingly, we suspect), and GN’R didn’t care. Dr Pepper allegedly dropped the ball, and now GN’R are pissed that their image has been damaged. Welcome to the jungle.

Courtesy of