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The Man Who Turned Stanley Tumblers Into a $750m Product

Meet Terence Reilly. 

He transformed Stanley 1913, a company that sells flasks, into a billion dollar brand using intelligent viral marketing tactics. 

When Terence joined Stanley in 2020, it was generating around $70m yearly revenue. In 2023, it made over $750m.  

He’s the same man that made Crocs cool (that’s no mean feat). 

In this article, I’ll show you how Terence turned an antiquated flask into a product that people will literally commit crimes to posses.

Guy jumps over the counter at Starbucks to steal a whole box of limited edition Stanley Cups pic.twitter.com/WMw5fw6la3

— non aesthetic things (@PicturesFoIder) January 9, 2024


What is Stanley 1913?

Before we dive into a marketing masterclass, you’ll need to know what a Stanley tumbler is. 

Stanley 1913 has been making thermos flasks for over 100 years. Your great grandad was probably using one in World War 2 to keep his coffee hot. 

It was a green, outdoorsy, rugged flask for strong men to drink hot drinks. 

Despite the history and reputation, Stanley 1913 was hardly a household name. 

It wasn’t until Terence Reilly arrived in 2020 that things really started to take off. 

His first port of call was to reposition the brand to appeal to new customers: young women. It went from male, green and hot to female, colorful and cold. 

The rebrand, together with some clever collaborations and shocking viral moments, 10xed Stanley’s revenue in just a few years. 

I watched every podcast, interview and TikTok video I could find to figure out how Terence turned a thermos into a $750m product. 

Here are 5 lessons for any brand that is trying to grow with social media. 


Lesson 1: Female youth drives culture

You probably won’t be surprised to hear, females spend more money than men.

It checks out. I, a 29 year old man, didn’t have any house plants or pictures on the wall until my girlfriend moved in. 

You might be slightly more surprised to hear that mothers mimic their daughter’s style. 

These two facts of life make it a very astute strategy to target your lifestyle products at young women. 

It’s a strategy that Adidas has used since 2015 to add billions in yearly sales. 

It’s a strategy that Stanley has used to place itself directly into the thoughts and minds of the most powerful demographic on planet Earth: little girls. 

Here’s the important part… this rebrand masterfully positioned Stanley to be posted, shared and talked about on social media. 

The lesson: If your sales are dwindling, maybe you’re not selling the wrong product. Maybe you’re just selling it to the wrong person. 


Lesson 2: Be ready, and show up at the right moment

Let’s role play for a second…

You are Terence Reilly.

You wake up and your phone is blowing up with notis. 

You pick up your phone and everyone is sending you the same video:

A woman’s car set on fire. The inside of the car has been scorched, but one thing remains unscathed: 

A Stanley cup… with ice still inside!

You are Terence Reilly… What do you do?!

Here’s what the real Terence did:

Yesterday a video went viral on TikTok when a woman shared the inside of her car after it caught on fire

Including her Stanley cup – still in tact and with ice in it!!!

The president of Stanley stitched the video in < 24 hours offering to replace her cup…..and her car.

This… pic.twitter.com/HJ3FnOnzuQ

— Amanda Goetz (@AmandaMGoetz) November 17, 2023

Within 24 hours, he posted a response promising to replace the vehicle. 

It went insanely viral. Hundreds of millions of views. Millions of impressions on LinkedIn. 

The lesson: When the opportunity arises, move quickly. If something feels like a good idea, do it immediately. 

P.S: Please do not commit arson to go viral. 


Lesson 3: Collaborations are extremely powerful

During his days as Chief Marketing Officer for Crocs, Terence learned the power of collaborations. 

By collaborating with cool celebrities, Terence helped turn Crocs from a laughing stock to ‘out of stock’. 

He turned Crocs into a canvas that artists could use to amplify their own brand. Post Malone. Justin Bieber. Takashi Murakami. All have their own line of Crocs. 

Terence is using the same strategy at Stanley. They recently collabed with Lainey Wilson to make a ‘Watermelon Moonshine’ tumbler.

If you like the look of that tumbler, I have some bad news for you. It’s going to cost you a pretty penny to get your hands on it. They’re selling on the reseller market for over $200. 

These limited edition releases have transformed Stanley into a product that people will literally fight over (see Lesson 4). 

The lesson: If you’re not cool, collaborate with cool people. 


Lesson 4: FOMO is frighteningly effective

Fear of missing out (FOMO) is an intensely powerful emotion that drives people to buy things. This is especially the case for young people, who are desperate for approval and acceptance. 

This makes scarcity one of the most powerful weapons in a marketer’s arsenal. 

Scarcity is baked into the limited edition strategy. By definition, only a handful of people will be able to own them. 

The limited edition tumblers have created an insane reseller market, with tumblers being sold for over $200-$500. 

People were literally camping outside Target overnight to get their hands on a Stanley x Starbucks tumbler. 

It soon turned into a frenzy, with people willing to risk jail time to secure the Stanley. 

Guy jumps over the counter at Starbucks to steal a whole box of limited edition Stanley Cups pic.twitter.com/WMw5fw6la3

— non aesthetic things (@PicturesFoIder) January 9, 2024

All of this added fuel to fire. More people were talking about Stanley cups online, so more people wanted them, so more people were willing to pay stupid prices for them, so more people would do stupid things to get them. The flywheel was in full motion. 

The lesson: Scarcity is an age-old persuasion strategy that works now (with the amplification of social media) stronger than it ever has before. 


Lesson 5: Take full advantage of your viral moments

A lot of people go viral. Not everyone takes full advantage of the opportunity it presents.

When Stanley had its viral moments, it used the opportunity to start a conversation with the big retailers who didn’t use to answer their calls. 

The lesson: When you go viral, ask yourself this: What can I do with this opportunity? Who can I connect with that I couldn’t before? How can I milk this moment for everything it’s worth? 


Learn from the experts

Hats off to Terence. 

Transform an uncool brand into a hot commodity once, maybe you just got lucky. 

Do it again with another brand, and you start to think maybe this man knows what he’s talking about.

If you want to learn great marketing, look what the experts are doing. Looking carefully at what Terence is doing at Stanley 1913 is a great place to start. 


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The post The Man Who Turned Stanley Tumblers Into a $750m Product appeared first on WGMI Media.

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