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Lightbox Loves: How Stanley Cups and Crocs Became Icons of Contemporary Culture

Terence Reilly is the mastermind behind the remarkable marketing strategies that have propelled products like Crocs and the Stanley Quencher cups from obscurity to achieve a cult following amongst Gen Z consumers.

Originally targeted at workmen and outdoors enthusiasts back in 1913, the Stanley Quencher cup has undergone a remarkable transformation. It has evolved into a symbol of contemporary well-being and 'Clean Girl' aesthetics. Similarly, Crocs, once dismissed as 'unfashionable' in 2016 and associated mainly with professionals who spent long hours on their feet (e.g. medical professionals, waiters), have now found their place in the luxury fashion industry.

Both brands owe their iconic status largely to a shift in their marketing strategies:

Embracing User-Generated Content

The success of the Stanley Quencher on TikTok underscores the influence of user-generated content. The cup gained viral fame when a TikTok video showcasing its resilience in a car fire amassed 96 million views. Capitalising on this momentum, Stanley actively encouraged further user-generated content from enthusiastic fans, even rewarding the woman involved in the incident with a new car.

Cultivating Collectibles Culture

Crocs have positioned themselves as a footwear brand catering to a diverse audience, from luxury fashion aficionados to those seeking comfort. A key aspect of their appeal lies in the customisable and collectable nature of their shoes, featuring 13 holes where wearers can attach charms to express their personality and individuality. Doing so encourages emotional engagement with the brand and the product, transforming a mere shoe into a symbol of one’s identity.

Symbolising an Ideal Lifestyle

Stanley successfully tapped into the 'hustle' and 'girl boss' culture prevalent on platforms like TikTok. While these trends coincide with the economic challenges of modern times (e.g. rising inflation, rent prices and uncertain job markets), the Stanley cup offers an aspirational avenue for its audience to embody this 'girl boss' ideal. While career advancement may pose real-life challenges, owning a Stanley cup symbolises this achievement and status. With online resale values soaring to £300 and beyond, the Stanley Quencher has aligned itself with contemporary wellness and lifestyle ideals.

For Crocs, the journey to iconic status was paved through collaborations with aspirational brands, celebrities, and influencers such as Balenciaga, Justin Bieber, Liberty London, and Post Malone. These partnerships have positioned Crocs as a symbol of belonging to a particular community within modern pop culture.