Stanley drinkware sensation offers a vivid example of the power of social media

January 09, 2024

Pink Stanley Cup standing on counter

The Stanley Cup sensation currently sweeping the globe demonstrates the power of social media and a good public relations strategy, explains Professor Katie Place.

Although a seemingly simple stainless steel water bottle to the untrained eye, the foot-tall Stanley Cup "Quencher" has become a must-have item following a video went viral with more than 94 million views showing a Stanley Cup surviving a automobile fire relatively unscathed.

Since then, the #StanleyCup hashtag has received nearly 7 billion views on the social media bohemith, helping to propel annual sales for 2023 to exceed $750 million, according to NBC News. 

Katie Place, professor of public relations, used the November 15 fire and resulting response by the company as a case study last semester.

“When you have these incredible situations like the Stanley tumbler surviving a car fire relatively untouched — followed up by Stanley replacing the person’s car and gifting them a new Stanley tumbler — it is a recipe for social media success,” Place said. “Those forms of engagement enhance a sense of goodwill and positive sentiment between the brand and customer.”

TikTok has emerged as the true hero for this product when it comes to boosting it across different audiences. The video-focused social media platform is changing digital and social media marketing forever, she said.

 Short-form content is the way to go,” Place said. “Individuals on social media have such short attention spans and are often searching content in the mindframe of, ‘What’s in it for me?’ Storytelling that appeals to human needs or human interests is going to go far.”

Place also mentioned how short-form content is a breath of fresh air for companies as they are allowed to take a break from making what she calls “professional” and “corporate” content. Now, consumers have the opportunity to make content about their favorite products right at their fingertips where companies can utilize their original and gritty posts, she explained.

“Personally, I feel the TikTok effect is a larger, more permanent shift to brand communications,” Place said. 

“It often reminds me of the success of 'Sesame Street.' Its short-form content changed how children learn and interact with information. We can take a page out of their strategy for social media engagement. Short and engaging tidbits of relevant information are hard to ignore," Place said.

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