What’s In A Name? Apparently A Lot

In a move that probably doesn’t come as a surprise to most the energy drink Cocaine has been pulled from store shelves over concerns about it’s name. While the drink itself does not contain the drug, the FDA wasn’t happy about the way the company was marketing the beverage.

The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter last month that said Redux was illegally marketing the drink as a street drug alternative and a dietary supplement.

The FDA further

cited as evidence the drinks labeling and Web site, which included the statements “Speed in a Can,” “Liquid Cocaine” and “Cocaine — Instant Rush.”

Redux Beverages LLC pulled the drink to prevent potential jail time and has plans to change the name within a week and get the product back on shelves within a few weeks. They do plan on fighting to keep the name.

The lesson here is to be careful when deciding on a name for your business or your products. Most assumed the name Cocaine would eventually cause the company problems when they first promoted the energy drink. No doubt the name helped gain mindshare and appealed to a specific market for the product, but did the initial benefits outweigh the rebranding that will need to be done along with changes like new labels, a new or at least tweaked website, a new marketing strategy, etc.

In the end Redux may very well be fine and sales of the renamed energy drink may continue as before after a brief hiatus. A rose by any other name is still the same product. Or is it? Your perceptions of a product do impact your buying decision.

Redux obviously thought the name Cocaine was important. They thought it would help sell their beverage and they built marketing around the name. With another and more subdued name will it be any different than Red Bull? Will there be a compelling reason for anyone to buy? Those are the challenges Redux now faces for the second time.

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  1. Well, remember that domain name made from that HD-DVD processing key ? lol. I think thats also gonna cause some serious trouble. But I dont think they would build a brand on it. Anyway, I was just pointing out to something I found high;y contrasting to this. 😉

  2. Thanks for making that point, Sreejith.

    I, too, am surprised that they got away with calling the beverage “Cocaine” for so long. They had to known that something would have eventually come up regarding the naming and the marketing of it. Or maybe that was their plan all along? To do something controversial so that it would hit the news so they could get all the free publicity?

  3. Sreejith I think the distinction is that the HD-DVD domains aren’t trying to build a brand on the domain. Good point.

    Thanks for stopping by Bill. I think I have a couple of your articles tucked away on the site somewhere. I remember when they first launched and know most everyone was thinking the same thing about the domain. It’s amazing they lasted with it as long as they did.

    I think it was their plan to cause some controversy. I think their target market is also the one most likely to think naming a product after a drug is a cool thing. Or maybe just least likely to think it’s a bad thing.

    And they are getting free publicity. I know it’s the only reason we’re talking about them here.

  4. To be honest, I just don’t see the problem here. I don’t see why a suit should be threatened with arrest for calling a drink “cocaine” and I don’t see why people should be giving him free publicity over it either? Calling it by the name of a drug doesn’t mean that drug is in something, and our laws are against having or selling drugs, not saying their names.

  5. I think threatening the company with lawsuits is pushing things a little too far too. I think Cocaine was a poor choice of names, but it’s hardly offensive and shouldn’t be illegal. I think they chose the name though because it would generate buzz particularly with their target market. Their market of 20-30 year olds is probably the market most likely to see drugs as something cool. Not everyone in the market, but more in that age group than any other I would guess.

    They also had to know that most people would be upset with the name. With all the efforts and tax dollars paid to prevent drug use (even though it will never work) people were going to get upset. The company had to know that at some point they were probably going to have to give up the name.

    They may have known all that and chose Cocaine because of the initial buzz it likely got and because of the subsequent attention they knew they could generate when they had to give it up. They may also have miscalculated and not been prepared. Hard to know and hard to know if part of their success to this point was based solely on the name or if they have a good product behind that name and the majority of their customer base will follow them to whatever name comes next.

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