At the same time we’re seeing the curtailing of one drink category with a dubious reputation – drinks like Sparks that combine alcohol and caffeine will be discontinued or reformulated – a new line with similar image issues rises to take its place. Lead by Drank, a purple-tinged carbonated beverage that combines the natural calming qualities of Melatonin, Valerian Root and Rose Hips, the so-called “relaxation” or “anti-energy drink” category has been born. Although it contains ingredients most would expect to find in a health food store next to the healing crystals, who it’s being marketed to might surprise you.
Wishing to capture a youthful audience, the Houston-based Innovation Beverage Group, is playing up the drink’s hip-hop roots from its slogan promising to “Slow Your Roll” to promotional efforts that include distributing free samples from a Hummer and placing the product in a recent rap video. And while these associations might appear rather innocuous on the surface, given Drank’s obvious similarities to dangerous street concoctions with names like “purple drank” and “sizzurp” that combine cough syrup and soda, the company’s tactics are more than a little troubling.
This controversy only serves to illuminate what is really being sold, not some herbal beverage that will help you ease through your day – there’s nothing particularly innovative or risky in that – but rather everything that tells the story behind the drink. The very relationships that build a successful brand.