The Stanley Phenomenon: Reinventing a Century-Old Brand in the Influencer Era

The Stanley Phenomenon:
By: Nicole Kazantzidis
(originally published in Results Magazine)

Welcome to the tale of Stanley®, where a $45 cup became the latest sensation, thanks to social media influencers. In the world of influencer marketing, Stanley’s resurgence is a modern-day fairy tale, proving that, sometimes, the glass slipper can be a stainless-steel tumbler.

In the fast-paced world of influencer marketing, catching the wave at the right moment can propel a brand into stardom. Stanley’s revival showcases the immense influence that social media personalities wield in molding consumer tastes and cultural trends. Founded in 1913, Stanley has been known for its durable all-steel vacuum bottles. Fast forward to the present, and it’s their savvy engagement with influencer marketing that’s making headlines.

Stanley Tunes into Customer Voices

Stanley’s resurgence emphasizes the importance of brands listening to their audiences and engaging in ongoing conversations about their products. Viral moments can significantly sway consumer behavior, demonstrating how influencers can magnify a brand’s presence and unify shopping trends.

A significant turning point occurred in early 2020, rooted in an event from 2017, when Ashlee LeSueur, Taylor Cannon, and Linley Hutchinson of The Buy Guide, an e-commerce blog, first noticed the tumbler. Faced with Stanley’s halt in online restocks, The Buy Guide suggested relaunching the tumbler to their engaged audience. By 2019, they had collaborated with Lauren Solomon from Stanley to orchestrate a successful campaign, which saw the tumblers sell out within five days.

They harnessed the power of affiliate marketing to reach a new demographic, with LeSueur confidently stating, "We promise you; it will sell. We will introduce this cup to an army of other influencers on Instagram, and you’ll be amazed by the impact of women marketing to women." Reilly referred to the resurgence as a testament to "listening to female voices," highlighting the strategic shift towards influencer marketing. (Source: The New York Times)

From Scrolling to Selling

Stanley’s strategy gained an extra boost from a viral incident where a customer’s car caught fire, yet a Stanley tumbler inside remained intact, and yes, still holding ice! This story, capturing more than 92 million views, further solidified Stanley’s social media fame. The company’s generous response — offering the customer a new car and tumbler — highlighted their customer-first ethos and turned a horrific event into a marketing triumph.

By collaborating with influencers, Stanley rejuvenated its century-old legacy into a vibrant, contemporary brand now valued at $750 million. Influencers have not only promoted Stanley products but have also woven a narrative of authenticity and relatability around the brand, emphasizing the role of influencer marketing in modern digital campaigns.

Stanley Is a Lifestyle Symbol

Move over, Barbies: it’s Stanley’s time to shine! Just imagine a cup becoming a status symbol. They were selling out faster than Taylor Swift concert tickets. In schools, it’s become a trend so widespread that owning a Stanley is now synonymous with being cool.

Stanley had transformed into a fun-yet-active lifestyle brand, aligning with the values and aspirations of the modern consumer. The brand’s strategy leveraged influencers to create a uniform desire for their products, as seen with the viral #StanleyCup hashtag, which garnered 7.2 billion views globally and on Instagram, where influencers share photos of their tumbler collections literally spilling out of their arms.

Navigating the Digital Landscape: Insights for Brands

While many brands aspire to replicate Stanley’s success, achieving virality is an elusive goal. The key takeaway from Stanley’s journey is the importance of being present where your audience is and engaging with them meaningfully.

A well-rounded marketing strategy that spans different platforms, from traditional TV to the dynamic realm of social media, is essential for brands seeking to resonate with their audience. Leading the conversation with content that strikes a chord with your audience is where the true potential lies.

Stanley’s success highlights the critical need for a dynamic, audience-first approach that evolves in real-time, ensuring that strategies are not only seen but felt, fostering a deeper, more resonant connection with consumers. Achieving lasting impact hinges on authenticity, adaptability, and a deep understanding of your audience.

Explore More Insights