I recently re-read David Armano's piece from July called Brand Affinity Through Stories + Experience because I have been pondering how companies and marketers make decisions on affinity products and associations (see Audi piece) and how they could make better connections - when the Cocaine controversy walked right up to me.
On any day in downtown Boston you could partake in any number of product demos, so I wasn't certain that the Cocaine demo was associated with Knowfat. It seemed like a strange attempt at affinity given Knowfat's mission statement (from their website):
"KnowFat! Lifestyle Grille promises to provide great tasting, nutritionally packed food and products to help you look good, feel good, and achieve optimal physical and mental performance."
Knowfat knows how to make a good meal - healthy, tasty and in balance. They offer a number of healthy lifestyle products including protein powders, nutrition bars and other items for better living. I personally love a company that puts the nutritional values of their products on line. The location near my office is well-known to me - I am a fan of the chipotle chicken sandwich (427 calories, 44g protein, 42g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, saturated fat 2g.) Yup, I'm a fan - so this attempted affinity really confuses me. I sampled the product and found it not to my liking at all. Fruity flavor with a burning sensation and then a feeling like I was going to "lose my lunch" - not a desired reaction to anything I consume.
The Cocaine drink website features a "dealers" link (lame-o) but not a lot in the way of information about the product. Their MySpace page didn't offer up any additional detail. There are a number of videos on YouTube that will scare the pants off you. There is no doubt that they have targeted their marketing toward young people and the controversy has kept them in the news, but do we need another super-caffeinated energy drink product and one that has chosen to launch itself with a drug controversy? I will never be confused for the Church Lady, so really Cocaine marketers, wtf?
A number of news stories reference the (unconfirmed) fact that the drink contains 280 milligrams of caffeine (which is less than a large cup of coffee at Starbucks, but 8 times more than a 1 oz. espresso at Starbucks.) So what is the affinity here? I can get a really healthy, tasty meal at Knowfat and get a side of giggly controversy heart-attack-in-a-can to wash it all down?
I sent an email note off to some of the principals at Knowfat asking, given all of the controversy, what the thinking was - as well as informing them that I was blogging this and asking for their side. Stay tuned.