What Brands Can Learn From the Stanley Cup Craze


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Stanley has undeniably become a pop culture sensation, with the #StanleyTumbler amassing over 1 billion views on TikTok, stores witnessing Black Friday-like rushes, and even SNL poking fun at the phenomenon. Given the widespread hype and brand awareness, I myself have been debating whether to give up my cheap, reusable water bottle for this trendy, $45 cup. 

While I was aware of Stanley's longstanding presence in the market, I was surprised to discover just how many years the company has been around. Invented just one year after the Titanic sank (yes, it's been THAT long), for decades Stanley focused on providing durable, functional drinkware to outdoorsmen.  In this blog, Hollywood Branded shares what brands can learn from the Stanley cup craze, from utilizing social media, employing a scarcity model, strategically leveraging press coverage, and partnering with celebrities.



The turning point came with the launch of their Quencher, also known as the 'Stanley Cup' or 'Stanley Tumbler.' This launch prompted a strategic marketing shift towards a predominantly female audience, propelling the company into a phase of extraordinary growth. Sales surged from $73 million in 2019 to a remarkable $750 million in 2023, proving the success of their marketing strategy. But how exactly did they achieve this transformation, and what lessons can other brands take from their remarkable growth?

Forget the days of scripted ads – audiences are craving authenticity, and Stanley has embraced this 100%. The brand has become masters of user-generated content (UGC), actively encouraging fans to share photo and video adventures featuring their beloved tumblers. The #StanleyTumbler hashtag has exploded, raking in over 1 billion views on TikTok alone, showcasing the brand not through staged perfection, but through the messy and relatable adventures of everyday life.

Stanley has also leveraged the power of affiliate marketing. This clever strategy allows not just influencers, but everyday people to promote Stanleys, earning commissions while spreading the word organically. This not only expands Stanley's reach but also builds trust through authentic recommendations.


Stanley has strategically implemented a scarcity model by carefully controlling the availability of their products. Through limited releases, exclusive editions, and periodic restocking, the brand has created a sense of exclusivity around their tumblers. This approach has heightened the perceived value of the Stanley tumbler enticing consumers with the idea that owning one is a must-have experience, no matter what the cost.

Stanley recently joined forces with Target for an exclusive 2024 Galentine’s collection that completely flew off the shelves. The heightened excitement led to another viral video showcasing a Black Friday-like crowd hustling to snag one of the beloved tumblers. Since the video gained traction, even my own local Target has put up a sign signaling the sell-out of Stanley cups, proving the undeniable phenomenon of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) among consumers. 

Press, publicity, pr

Over the past year, the brand has received an abundance of favorable media exposure. Top publications such as Forbes, GQ, and The New York Times have penned feature articles extolling the virtues of their products, emphasizing durability, functionality, and trendiness. Catering to a more Millennial and Gen Z audience, online platforms like Buzzfeed, Cosmopolitan, and Refinery29 have spotlighted the cups in listicles and reviews. The press coverage has gone beyond just product reviews, delving into Stanley's brand history, marketing strategies, and commitment to sustainability. This widespread and positive press attention has helped boost awareness, and has cemented their position as a brand that is beyond just camping gear.

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In January 2024, social media users shared videos expressing concerns of lead contamination in Stanley tumblers and the ensuing worry quickly caught the attention of the press. In response, Stanley representatives promptly issued a statement to reassure consumers: "“Please rest assured that no lead is present on the surface of any Stanley product that comes in contact with you or the contents of your container. Every Stanley product meets all U.S. regulatory requirements, including California Proposition 65, which requires businesses to provide warnings to Californians about heavy metal and chemical exposure.”

Beyond this statement, Stanley's PR team seemingly worked overtime to spin the narrative. The New York Times ran a feature titled "The Stanley Cup Lead Scare Is Not Cause for Concern, Experts Assert." Rival company Hydro Flask quickly entered the conversation, highlighting its lead-free sealing process since 2012 and positioning itself as a brand committed to a higher standard. It’s too soon to tell if the negative PR had an impact on sales, but given Stanley's swift response and the FDA testing and approval of their products, my guess is this will quickly blow over.


In July 2023, Stanley strategically partnered with country music star Lainey Wilson. The collaboration resulted in a limited-edition "Watermelon Moonshine" Quencher, which ignited a buying frenzy, selling out in just 11 minutes.

This wasn't just a marketing stunt; it resonated deeply with Wilson's dedicated fanbase, introducing Stanley to a whole new audience within the country music scene. By leveraging the star power and established fanbase of celebrities, brands can tap into an entirely new audience, exponentially boosting both sales and brand awareness.

Lainey Wilson

Image courtesy of CNN


Stanley's journey from a brand you associated with your grandfather to a pop culture sensation shows just how much strategic marketing can make a difference. The brand has excelled in leveraging social media authenticity, implementing a scarcity model for exclusivity, navigating a PR crisis swiftly, and capitalizing on celebrity partnerships. Stanley's success story provides valuable insights for brands aiming to thrive in today's dynamic market.

Want to partner your own brand with everything pop culture? Reach out to us to get started. It's never too early or too late to begin...just look at what 110-year-old Stanley has accomplished.

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