Press Release Headlines

Disturbing Trends in Energy Drink Marketing: Clever Branding or Sinister Gateway?

LAS VEGAS, July 10, 2007 — A disturbing trend in beverage marketing has emerged as start-up companies competing for market share increasingly rely upon shock marketing tactics to gain exposure.

Particularly troubling is the potential glamorization of the drug culture by some energy drink companies.

Marketed with names like Cocaine and Blow, these companies cross the line with aggressive marketing tactics to promote their brands and grab consumer attention.

Major drink competitors like Red Bull, Rock Star, and Monster control multi-million dollar marketing budgets making it tough for a new company to get noticed.

U.S. energy drink sales topped $6 billion in 2006, according to Goldman Sachs analyst Judy Hong, who covers the beverage industry. The most popular drink, Red Bull, reportedly generates over $1 billion in sales annually. Sales of Monster follow closely behind.

Yet the use of controversial and aggressive marketing tactics to build brand awareness is nothing new to the beverage industry.

The popular drink Mountain Dew was originally marketed as "zero proof moonshine." According to Mountain Dew's website, "the names on the bottles are intended to make the product feel like the illegally made liquor cooked up in mountain stills. In fact, the name Mountain Dew is slang for moonshine." Mountain Dew's brand strategy to align a popular drink targeted to youth with alcohol was certainly aggressive in the seventies but seems tame by current marketing standards.

Last month, the Food and Drug Administration successfully halted sales of the Cocaine energy drink marketed by Redux Beverages. The FDA claimed that Cocaine's positioning as "the legal alternative" to an illicit street drug violated federal regulations.

Not to be outdone, an even more aggressive product called Blow emerged within days of Cocaine's demise. Blow is a white powder packaged in a clear vial that is meant to be mixed into a beverage. According to the company's website, it contains an astonishing 240 milligrams of caffeine and 2,000 milligrams of Taurine.

Sue Rusche, president of the parental watchdog group National Families in Action, recently became aware of Blow and launched an email campaign against the product. "It's just disgusting," she remarked after viewing the company's website at "Can you spell exploitation of children?"

"Ms. Rusche really needs to find a hobby," says Blow founder Logan Gola. "Our product is sexy, edgy and fun but also very tongue-in-cheek. She could really use some Blow."


Matt Young

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