A crowdsourcing gimmick by PepsiCo to help pick a name for its forthcoming green apple-flavored soft drink has gone very wrong, with Internet pranksters pushing “Diabeetus” to the top of the poll, the New York Daily News reports.
The contest was called “Dub the Dew.” Hackers at 4chan seized upon it, posting the joke submision “Hitler did nothing wrong,” which they managed to keep in the top spot. However, because the contest states that the company will choose the winning name out of the top ten finishers, the 4chan conspirators decided they needed to fill the list with enough joke/offensive names to push out the innocuous contenders. (Many at 4chan were convinced the contest was rigged and that the company was already planning on calling the drink “Tempest”.) If you’re interested in reading the story from 4chan’s point of view, follow this thread at chanarchive.org (warning, contains strong language).
Prank met meme when a 4chan member suggested “Diabeetus” — the pronunciation of “diabetes” used by Wilfred Brimley in classic Liberty Medical commercials — you can see the original commercial and the videos and images it spawned at the “Diabeetus” page at KnowYourMeme.com. To make a long story short… you end up with this sort of thing:
At day’s end on Tuesday, the DubtheDew.com site was offline.
Diabetes, though, is a serious issue, particularly in Indian country, where rates are well above the norm. At this moment, the United States as a whole is reconsidering its love of soda. As we recently reported, health experts have called soda “the new tobacco,” and with actions such as New York City’s ban on super-sized soft drinks, the battle is on.
Maybe you think the way Wilfred Brimley says “diabeetus” is funny, maybe you don’t — but (whether they intended to or not) the 4chan pranksters made a point. A new apple-flavored version of Mountain Dew doesn’t sound like the end of the world — hell, is sounds downright tasty — but the days of seeing soft drinks as harmless may be numbered.