The Stanley Cup Craze: A TikTok ‘Çult’?


The internet, man, it’s wild. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, something new pops up. Like, remember my post about Alpha kids going nuts for anti-ageing stuff on their Christmas lists? Crazy, right? Well, guess what? Just a few days later, I’m knee-deep in a whole new trend: Stanley Cups. No, not the hockey trophy, but like, those insulated tumblers? Especially the Quencher ones, those things are everywhere!

Stanley Tumbler Takes a Dip in Fire, Comes Out a Star

In November 2023, a TikTok video showcasing a woman named Amanda Ellerby’s Stanley Quencher tumbler went viral. The video depicted the aftermath of a car fire that had completely destroyed her vehicle, yet her Stanley cup miraculously remained intact, even containing ice inside! This seemingly unbelievable feat captured the attention of millions, garnering over 84 million views and sparking widespread amazement and discussion. And Stanley’s swift response is the most heartwarming thing I have seen in so long. They literally gifted her a brand-new car and additional tumblers! This further endeared them to the audience and showcased their commitment to customer satisfaction.

But before this incident occurred, there was a small section of TikTok dedicated to water drinkers all over the world.

Let’s Talk About WaterTok

WaterTok is a booming trend on TikTok focused on making hydration visually appealing and fun, encouraging people to increase their water intake. Creators share colourful and flavorful “water recipes” using various ingredients and accessories, transforming plain water into something exciting.

So, picture this: you’re scrolling through TikTok, and instead of the usual dance challenges and cat videos, BAM! You stumble upon a galaxy of GORGEOUS water concoctions. We’re talking strawberries swimming with mint, blueberries doing the backstroke in citrus-infused bliss, and maybe even a unicorn-approved concoction with shimmery sprinkles. That’s WaterTok. It’s all about making H2O so delicious and eye-catching that it makes you want to chug it down.

The Intersection Between WaterTok and Stanley Cup

The intersection of “WaterTok” and the Stanley Cup craze offers an interesting case study in online trends and their influence on consumer behavior.

WaterTok as a driver of demand:

WaterTok, a subculture on TikTok dedicated to staying hydrated and showcasing stylish water bottles, has undeniably fueled the popularity of Stanley tumblers.  Influencers on the platform flaunt their Stanleys, share customization tips, and promote the benefits of staying hydrated in style. This exposure has broadened Stanley’s reach and attracted a new audience, particularly younger demographics drawn to the platform’s visual and aspirational content.

Emphasis on aesthetics and personalization:

WaterTok isn’t just about practical hydration; it’s about expressing individuality and making staying hydrated visually appealing. Stanley’s wide range of colors, patterns, and collaborations perfectly aligns with this trend. Videos showcasing DIY customizations like stickers, paint jobs, and epoxy additions have further sparked user creativity and turned Stanley tumblers into personalized accessories.

Community and belonging:

WaterTok fosters a sense of community among hydration enthusiasts, and owning a Stanley can feel like a badge of membership. Online forums and groups dedicated to Stanley tumblers allow users to share tips, discuss limited editions, and celebrate their collections. This sense of belonging further boosts the craze and encourages new users to join the fold.

Marketing and influencer partnerships: Stanley has capitalized on WaterTok’s popularity by partnering with relevant influencers and sponsoring content creators. This strategic approach has helped them reach a targeted audience and leverage the platform’s organic hype to drive sales.

While WaterTok and the Stanley Cup craze can encourage healthy hydration habits and self-expression, it’s important to be mindful of potential downsides. Overconsumption and the pressure to have the “latest and greatest” can lead to wasteful spending and contribute to a materialistic culture. It’s crucial to focus on the practical benefits of hydration and avoid getting caught up in the hype cycle.

Stanley Cup Craze And Consumerism Culture

I’ve been observing these TikTok subcultures and craze for some time now and I realized that it almost always boiled down to consumerism. It’s a sad reality but that’s the era that we’re living in right now. Let’s dive in!

Buy-more Culture:

The allure of buy-more culture plays on our emotions, whispering promises of happiness, self-worth, and belonging through ownership. Limited editions and collaborations create a constant stream of “new” Stanleys, encouraging frequent purchases and collections. This feeds into the consumerist mindset of always needing the latest and greatest. For instance, the Stanley Cup’s Valentine’s Day collaboration at Target. Target released an exclusive line of Stanley tumblers, the “Galentine’s Connection” collection, specifically for Valentine’s Day. These 40-ounce stainless steel beauties came in two shades of love: a bubbly pink and a playful red. They also featured a tiny heart adorning the Stanley logo and a card label.

To be honest, the cups do not look any different from the other Stanley’s releases but from what I saw online, it sure drove people of all ages crazy. TikTok flooded with videos of shoppers hunting for them, people lining up before stores even opened, and some even camping out overnight! The hashtag #TargetStanleyCup racked up millions of views. The cups sold out online and in-store almost instantly, leaving many heartbroken and empty-handed. Target didn’t restock, adding to the FOMO (fear of missing out) and further inflating the hype.

But it didn’t stop there. With their scarcity, the Stanley cups transformed into hot commodities on resale platforms. Personal shoppers who managed to get their hands on the limited editions marked up the price to double or triple their original cost. In the end, it’s the consumers who become the victim of this buy-more culture.

The Commodification of Everyday Objects:

Stanley tumblers transcend their practical function and become status symbols. Owning the “right” color or limited edition elevates social standing and contributes to the competitive nature of consumerism.

Commodification essentially refers to the transformation of objects from things with utilitarian or personal value into commodities bought and sold in a market. This process assigns objects a monetary value and integrates them into larger economic systems. From coffee mugs to clothing, furniture to technology, even experiences like travel and education are increasingly subjected to commodification. We see it in branded water bottles, designer sneakers, or subscription boxes for everyday essentials.

In a simple term, owning limited-edition items gives us a bragging right.  But how long does this bragging right serve us? If you focus on acquiring and owning commodified objects you only fuel a cycle of desire and unnecessary spending. This definitely can impact your personal finances.

While seemingly affordable compared to luxury items, Stanleys can still be a financial burden for some, raising concerns about consumerism exacerbating social inequalities.

Identity Through Possessions:

The craze highlights how consumerism can tie our sense of identity and belonging to the things we own. Stanley ownership becomes a marker of community and belonging, blurring the lines between self and material possessions. The entanglement of identity and possessions is a fascinating dance. It is like a tango between who we are and what we own. It’s a story woven with threads of desire, self-expression, and belonging, but also fraught with the potential for materialism, insecurity, and societal pressures.

However, I do not understand how owning a cup gives us some sort of identity. It’s true that objects can become badges of belonging, connecting us to tribes and communities. But it’s just a cup. You don’t need a whole collection. In the end, these items are just going to take up a lot of space in your house and a big hole in your wallet.

Image — Nawal Escape

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