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Posts Tagged ‘Four Loko’

Adventures in Marketing: Wrigley’s Caffeinated ‘Energy Gum’

Wrigley's Alert Energy Caffeine GumDo you love caffeine but don’t want to get hooked on the Colombian bean or risk your health by chugging Monster and 5-Hour Energy? Well then Wrigley’s has the product for you: Alert Energy Gum! We always thought that the indisputable way to make anything more fun was to “add alcohol”, but that rule apparently now applies to caffeine as well.

This chewable jolt is hardly your grandma’s Doublemint or Juicy Fruit–it seems that brands like those just weren’t exciting enough for the demanding, limited-attention-span Millennial set, so Wrigley’s just had to give them more of what they love most: drugs! The company claims that Alert is designed for “consumers 25 and older who want a portable energy product that will let them control their caffeine consumption”, but we know better. (Also: this product is sadly not related to Stay Alert chewing gum, which is marketed specifically to members of the U.S. military.)

While those big drink brands face lawsuits and the city of Chicago considers banning drinks with more than 180 mg of caffeine per serving, energy addicts can just get their chew on as long as they don’t mind the “bitter, medicinal taste”. Our favorite part of the campaign rollout has to be this quote (from a company representative, no less):

“The taste expectations are different for someone who wants to chew gum for energy than for someone who chews gum for flavor. If you come at this as a piece of gum that you chew for enjoyment it’s not going to deliver on that.”

OK, so maybe it’s really not for the kids! But now we finally have a new twist on that classic “walking and chewing gum” question: can one chew Alert and drink Four Loko at the same time?

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PR Nightmare: Teen Deaths Tied to Monster Energy Drink

We never thought an “energy drink” could have a poorer public reception than Four Loko, but Monster appears to have landed in an even deeper ditch—and its products don’t even contain alcohol!

A certain big-deal organization known as the FDA just released a report asserting that as many as five people died over the past three years after drinking Monster. While the report draws no direct, indisputable link between Monster and the tragedies in question, we can all agree that this sort of story is every company’s worst PR nightmare.

The victims, all of whom were teenagers, had a couple of crucial factors in common: each of them drank one or more 24-ounce cans of Monster less than 24 hours before dying of heart failure. The FDA also received multiple reports of consumers experiencing problems like “abdominal pain, vomiting, tremors and abnormal heart rate” after drinking Monster.

Does the drink really pose a risk to the general public? While every can contains 240 milligrams of caffeine, company representatives note that the average 16-ounce cup of coffee contains even more of the potentially damaging stimulant. That point may be irrelevant, though. The case got a lot bigger last week when one of the victims’ mothers responded to her daughter’s death by filing a lawsuit against the publicly traded company; its stock prices (NYSE: MNST) fell accordingly.

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Worst Branding Ever: Accused Rapist Debuts ‘Four Loko Defense’

The toxic combination of caffeine, alcohol and corn syrup known as Four Loko got a lot of bad press a couple of years ago thanks to Chuck Schumer and a few other buzzkills with time on their hands (like Brooklyn Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, who wasn’t afraid to use his own vomit to make a point).

After the company caved and removed the caffeine from its products, a whole bunch of other beverage makers like Colt 45 decided to cash in on the “dangerous sugar drink” craze. Politicians had some new enemies, but Four Loko just kept chugging along.

The worst news regarding the infamous Loko involved reports of young people blacking out after drinking it—and now, in a frankly disgusting turn of events, a man accused of raping a woman in Manhattan’s Hudson River Park has debuted the “Four Loko defense”, claiming that he was too intoxicated by the sugary drink to remember what happened that night—the implication being that he should therefore not be held responsible.

Innocent until proven guilty, of course, but did we mention that this guy is both homeless and a twice-convicted sex offender? The accused allegedly told officers “I drank five Four Lokos, Grey Goose vodka, smoked marijuana and K2. I was going toward the Brooklyn Bridge and was going to jump off the bridge.”

Ugh.

We guess that, when a product is best-known for its ability to help one “get blotto”, reports like this one can’t do too much damage to the brand. But based on the frankly disturbing photo attached to this story, we know somebody somewhere does publicity for Four Loko—and we can’t imagine that person is too terribly happy with his or her job right now.

Colt 45 Broadens Its Horizons With Fruit-Flavored Drink Containing 12 Percent Alcohol

Colt 45, which has been traditionally aimed at African-American consumers, is trying to reach a wider audience, including women, with Blast by Colt 45, a drink containing fruit flavors and 12 percent alcohol that is launching next month. The drink has twice the level of alcohol as the original Colt 45, a new spokesperson in the form of Snoop Dogg, and comes with a shot of trouble, treading in the same prickly territory that the high-powered drink Four Loko did.

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