Guns n’ Roses are threatening Dr Pepper with legal action over what the band calls “a complete fiasco” of a publicity stunt. Dr Pepper promised every person in America a free can of soda if Guns n’ Roses released Chinese Democracy this year; on November 23rd, the day Democracy was released, fans were told they could get a coupon for a free can at its Website. According to Axl Rose’s lawyer, Alan S. Gutman, things went terribly wrong: Yesterday he sent a letter to Dr Pepper CEO Larry Young saying that the soda company’s Website crashed and that “the redemption scheme your company clumsily implemented for this offer was an unmitigated disaster which defrauded consumers and, in the eyes of vocal fans, ‘ruined’ the day of Chinese Democracy‘s release”.
The band is seeking a public apology via ads in newspapers, plus more time for people to claim their free soda and monetary damages. In the words of the letter: “Now it’s time to clean up the mess.” The letter continues, “As we all now know, Dr Pepper created an expansive and highly-publicized advertising campaign based solely on the exploitation of my clients’ legendary reputation. In and of itself this campaign brazenly violated our clients’ rights in numerous respects. Unfortunately, Dr Pepper has now magnified the damage this campaign has caused through its appalling failure to make good on a promise it made to the American public.”
Other highlights from the letter: “Our clients are outrated at your treatment of their fans and the American public in general. After it became clear that Chinese Democracy would be released in 2008, Dr Pepper executive Tony Jacobs proudly proclaimed that Dr. Pepper would make good on its promise to give a free soda to everyone in America. It turned out that Dr Pepper did not define ‘everyone in America’ the same way as ‘everyone in America’ defined ‘everyone in America.'” It concludes, “Had you wished to engage in a commercial tie-in with our clients, you should have negotiated a legitimate arrangement instead of hijacking their rights without payment. Rest assured, this misappropriation will not be free.”