Navigating Social Media: The Impact of Virality on Stanley Tumblers



Read Time

5 min


13 February, 2024

Have you heard of Stanley tumblers?

If not, then you must be living under a rock.

Thanks to social media, this outdoor cup has become enormously popular with just about everyone and everyone trying to get their hands on one.

So how did this cup that was once associated with outdoor types become a social media phenomenon?

The answer lies in TikTok of course – the platform that has the potential to make or break any brand.

Let’s start with how it made Stanley tumblers an internet hit.

The brand gained widespread visibility through social media influencers and dedicated TikTok users, taking over feeds and making Stanley tumblers an internet sensation.

The momentum increased, fuelled by a viral video showing a tumbler emerging unscathed from a car fire with ice still inside.

Another reason why the brand achieved such rapid success as it learnt which customers were buying the product and quickly responded to make it as appealing to them as possible.

Let’s take a closer look.

woman holding orange Stanley quencher tumbler
Credit to Stanley

Appealing to a female market

Realising how popular some of the brand’s products were with women, such as the Quencher, Stanley pivoted towards this customer base and began making products in a range of colours.

For example, The Quencher H2.0 FlowState Tumbler has become iconic through a dedicated effort to rebrand it for a female audience, diverging from Stanley’s traditionally male customer base. Over the past few months, this tumbler, including a collaboration with country music star Lainey Wilson, has been involved in several high-profile partnerships.

The latest addition, a pink Stanley adorned with the Starbucks logo, has set social media abuzz.

Fans eagerly flocked to stores like Target, forming queues as the doors opened to secure their coveted cups. The popularity of the Starbucks collaboration and the Valentine’s Day collection, featuring a red and a pink Quencher, soared to such heights that Target had to enforce a limit of two cups per customer.

Now, the cups are in such demand that the only available option is the resale market, with opportunistic resellers seeking to capitalise on the fervent demand.

This is another reason why the brand achieved such rapid success as it learnt which customers were buying the product and quickly responded to make it as appealing to them as possible.

To build up more excitement, Stanley released limited edition versions of the tumblers but once they were gone, they were gone.

This further helped to create a sense of hype and made people buy out of fear of missing out.

grey and green stanly tumbler
Credit to The Dieline

The social media downturn

Everything was going smoothly in the realm of fashionable oversized cups until the revelation of lead content, commonly known as ” the leadening.” Fans of the product uncovered this issue using at-home lead tests, sharing their findings on social media and instilling a sense of caution among potential consumers.

The presence of lead, a heavy metal, poses a threat to health even with minimal exposure, casting a shadow over the brand. While Stanley incorporates lead in the construction of its tumblers, it only becomes a risk to consumers or beverages in the event of physical damage to the vessel.

It’s crucial to acknowledge that, according to experts, there are currently no specific concerns regarding Stanley tumblers.

Jack Caravanos, a professor of public health at New York University who studies the effects of lead exposure, tested three of the cups himself and came up with no lead.

He told the BBC:

There appears to be lead, according to the report, but I had trouble detecting it and wasn’t able to detect it using state-of-the-art equipment.

He says this is most probably because the lead was “too deep inside the unit”, meaning it would be very difficult to be exposed to it or ingest it.

Despite these reassuring messages, social media can become a bane for brands once a whiff of negativity or concern arises. Rational voices assuring the safety of the tumblers have been overshadowed, with people paying more attention to those who have complained about the brand.

​​Seizing the chance to grab attention, rivals like Hydroflask have entered the spotlight, hoping to take some focus. It’s important to note that Hydroflask has faced similar criticism on social media for its past use of lead – something they have obviously tried to forget.

Navigating Social Media: The Impact of Virality on Stanley Tumblers

When it comes to trendy oversized cups, Stanley Tumblers have taken the lead propelled by the forces of social media. From TikTok triumphs to strategic shifts in product appeal, the brand has attracted customers from all over the globe.

However the unforeseen lead scare, brought a shadow over the success, stirring caution among consumers and challenging the brand’s integrity.

Whether “the leadening” will be sufficient to knock Stanley from its current position remains to be seen, but it’s proof of the impact going viral can have, both in a positive and negative light.

At Canny, we love diving into branding projects and analysing what worked vs what didn’t. We’ve helped clients across the globe to transform their branding and we can do the same for you. Get in touch to find out more!

Hey I'm Tony, Founder and Director of Canny Creative. I eat, sleep and bleed Canny to be honest. I'm an absolute workaholic (and yes, I know that's not a good thing!).

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