Redux Beverages launched Cocaine Energy Supplement in 2006 without much fanfare until we, by chance, met a reporter from the New York Post who asked if they could write an article.
Following the article, almost every news agency in the country did a story and in the next few months, the brand reached close to 140,000,000 people and the coverage provided us with over $40,000,000 in free advertising.
Which was a good thing because we started the company with a group of dedicated folks, but not a lot of cash. In the beginning, we only had enough money to produce an initial run of 10,000 cases of product.
During the news coverage, the phones rang 24/7 and we quickly needed to figure out how we would meet overwhelming global demand for the product.
What we initially came up with was an unlikely solution, the "Two-Can Box" . . .
Brando the Mando
During the first few months, we were deluged with requests for product samples and SWAG, but one request stood out - Brando the Mando.
Brando sent us a video in which he described his necessity for a tee shirt because he didn't have any clothes while the camera slowly panned his empty closet and empty dresser drawers.
Of course, we responded with a collection of Cocaine SWAG and someone in his obviously very cool family took this photo of a super proud kid.
What Brando may not have realized was that he was the first person outside of potential distributors to receive the Two-Can Box and a sample of the product. Our limited supply was closely guarded but this kid was special and we particularly appreciated that his family got the joke.
Not everyone did . . .
A special shout out to Cole Saladino and the folks at thrillist.com for their excellent images and undying support.
In late 2006, we launched our first large scale promotion - The Bus - featuring Raymond Herrera, former drummer for the band Fear Factory and a partner at Redux Beverages.
We decided to wrap the tour bus for Fear Factory's 2006 Transgression Tour and offer the Two-Can Box to anyone who spotted the bus as the tour made it's way throughout the US.
What happened goes down as one of the most creative and entertaining promo responses that we ever encountered. Dozens of people sent in crazy photos of buses, in all types of circumstances, and photoshopped our Logo onto the bus. We never did get a sighting of the actual bus but we did get a good laugh with people who got the joke.
Unfortunately, not everyone did . . .
In early 2007, it suddenly wasn't funny anymore. The FDA sent a warning letter claiming that our advertising slogan, The Legal Alternative, demonstrated that our product was intended as an alternative to an illegal street drug which, of course, it was.
We've always been an alternative to, not a substitute for. And if you're nerdy like us, semantics matter. We've always believed that the choice of safe alternatives over risky behaviors is a good thing. Apparently, not when you have the word Cocaine printed on the side of your can.
The Illinois AG filed an injunction, the Connecticut AG filled an injunction, and the Texas AG not only filed an injunction but sued Redux Beverages for $60,000,000. We caved under the sheer weight unlimited taxpayer resources that AG's could throw at their cause. There was no way that we could afford to hire enough lawyers to keep up.
But what we really took issue with was the fact that four government agencies, throngs of attorneys, and dozens of media talking heads were declaring that alternative means the same thing as substitute.
We're setting the record straight - they mean two different things and to prove it, and in true Cocaine spirit, we're displaying the definitions right here on our website. Take that! - Greg Abbott, former Texas Attorney General.
After 15 years, we'll let you in on a little secret
IT WAS ALWAYS MEANT TO BE A JOKE