LaCroix Courts Controversy On Instagram With Latest Cubana Flavors
by Rudy Sanchez on 01/21/2019 | 2 Minute Read
LaCroix, that unflappable beast, is the flavored sparkling water brand that somehow after decades of relative obscurity became the “it” beverage thanks in part to consumers looking for healthier alternatives to sugary sodas, savvy social media marketing, and visually standing out in the supermarket aisle.
Their cans defy the conventional rules of what constitutes good design—the dated look and typography shouldn’t work, and yet they do. As the story goes, the design the executives hated most was the one that tested best among consumers. Skip forward to today, and LaCoix’s new can designs are again causing controversy.
Already producing 31 flavors of fizzy water, LaCroix is adding two Cuban-inspired choices to its portfolio: NiCola Coffea Exotica (Coffee & Cola) and NiCola Cubana (Mojito-flavored). The designs are a departure from their typical Zubaz and Jazz Solo Cup aesthetic and are more overtly representative of the flavors.
Coffea Exotica’s can is yellow on the bottom, reminiscent of Cafe Bustelo, a brand founded by Cuban exiles, and the top half is evocative of a caffe latte with an illustration of a woman in a short skirt and high heels next to a coffee mug. The Cubana features a picture of a bikini-clad woman dipping her feet in a mojito.
LaCroix told Today Food that the flavors and cans were meant to “celebrate Cuban heritage and Miami,” but JennyLee Molina, who runs the 305cafecito Instagram account and is a principal of South Florida-based PR and marketing firm JLPR, said in a post “Can we all agree that the cheesy depiction of Cuba and our heritage by people who don’t understand the U.S. Hispanic culture is a little insulting?”
Some of her followers agreed, although according to La Croix’s owners the National Beverage Corp., they surveyed and gave samples to 35,000 people, including many in Cuban-American communities, and they did not hear similar criticism.
National Beverage Corp., vindictive seltzers titans that they are, went on to further allege that JennyLee Molina had interviewed to be a part of the product’s launch and was ultimately not hired. If true, is it possible that Molina’s criticism is perhaps tinted by sour grapes, which surprisingly is still not a LaCroix flavor?