Role Models

I RECENTLY GOT word that there will be an energy drink named for Roberto Duran called “Latin Blast.” Normally, I’d spend a lot of time discounting the possibility of success for a product named for a boxer who hasn’t fought in a dozen years.

What the heck. In comparison to some of the products we’ve seen lately, and in tribute to Mr. Duran’s best known fight, I say, “Mas!”

I’ve had it with marketers being concerned about silly little details like sales targets and taste.

I say, let’s have more weird energy drinks aimed at a tiny segment of the population (energy drink consuming Roberto Duran fans) Let’s have more sports themed misogyny (just Google “Slumpbuster.” Classy.) Let’s create a product category that only generates more parody, so we can see more one-offs from movies (Booty Sweat) and TV shows (Tru Blood).

While we’re at it, let’s have more products that say they will enhance sexual performance. And that are named for illegal drugs. And that are pre-mixed with booze but might still be shoved into the energy drink section. And that contain questionable ingredients intended for bodybuilders but might still be shoved into the energy drink section.

Let’s upsize packages so that we’re tripling portion sizes. It’s not our fault that the kids are getting fat. I plan to blame it on that Internet, unless I can find a cool Internet tie-in to move product, anyway.

Let’s have more drinks that are supported by undocumented scientific claims and unnecessary puffery. Why not? Along with bad taste, they’re just another marketing technique, right?

Let’s do it. After all, the profile of the category has never been higher. Look – they’ve even made a movie about energy drink salesmen – Role Models – featuring no less of a star than Sean William Scott. That’s right: Stiffler is going to play an energy drink salesman. Who says the category doesn’t have any class?

Come to think of it, maybe Latin Blast doesn’t sound that bad, after all. Duran might have lost the “No Mas” fight, but he’s still a winner.

Get the point? Like so many relapsed reality show stars, energy drink makers continue to play on the edges of barely credible taste. And I don’t just mean “wild berry” or “mango-açai.” I mean that products are being built on the weakest of platforms, with seemingly zero thought about how they will succeed.

This is of special concern to us at a time when we are creating a more comprehensive new Beverage Spectrum. We’re incredibly excited about the opportunity to write about new products, trends and innovations in the industry. We’re enthusiastic about attempts to bring in new customers by manufacturers who recognize that new tastes, attributes and pricing structures need to be carefully thought out. We’re behind the recklessness of entrepreneurial beverage makers who are living out a dream and learning the rules as they go. We’re even fired up about bad taste – if it’s a new, innovative kind of bad taste.

But if what we find isn’t refreshing, we’re not afraid to say that, either. We’re not going to pull punches, we’re not going to try to put lipstick on a pig. We’re going to provide the same fresh, honest, objective reporting on the industry that we always have – just more of it.

Whoops. We’re increasing the package size, after all. Hope you come back for seconds.