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The Stanley Cup takeover (not the hockey trophy)

The Stanley Adventure Quencher is taking over the nation, one Instagram account at a time

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Eliza Anderson, Deseret News

The very best drink receptacle in the world of beverage containment is the plastic mug with the bendy straw the hospital staff gives you in the maternity ward after you’ve had a baby. It’s lightweight, has an easy-to-hold handle, and while it’s not the most attractive summer accessory, it holds a whole bunch of DietCokeImeanwater.

But after every delivery, inevitably, tragedy strikes and the mug goes missing in the chaos of new baby-dom. Getting a replacement means another nine-plus months of pregnancy and thousands of dollars in medical bills, so many thirsty moms (and dads) find themselves searching for the second-best drink receptacle in the world of beverage containment.

For my money, it’s the Stanley, a water bottle-turned-phenomenon with deep roots in the Beehive State.

Pop by any Utah pool this summer and you’ll spot a sea of brightly colored 40-ounce mugs perched next to parents in lounge chairs, filled with ice and DietCokeImeanwater. You’ll see them in every stroller at the zoo, and on every bench at the park.

Stanleys are infiltrating our population. The rise in popularity has been so meteoric that The New York Times recently ran a story about the mug.

To get more precise about it, the mug is actually called the Adventure Quencher Travel Tumbler and is sold on the Stanley website for $40. But those who own and use the receptacles simply call them Stanley cups, or to avoid confusion among hockey fans (sko Avs), Stanley mugs, or simply Stanleys.

The mug itself is good. Debatably the best on the market aside from the aforementioned hospital mug. It has a wide, sturdy straw, Instagram-friendly color, and cupholder-conducive bottom half. The side handle allows the sipper to dangle it loosely between fingers, a vast improvement over other containers that require a full palm grip. The Stanley is bright. It’s easy. It’s big. It keeps beverages cold for longer than any rational mind would think possible. It’s dishwasher safe.

But, it might be the Stanley’s scarcity that makes it the hottest new trend among Utah moms and a growing community of mug-havers nationwide.

One cannot simply log on to the Stanley website and order the 40-ounce Adventure Quencher Travel Tumbler. The product is listed as sold out at all times except for the first few hours on a Quencher drop day, which happens every few months. A user must refresh the webpage until the 40-ounce tumbler is marked available, and order the mug in their preferred color as quickly as possible. It’s an adrenaline-pumping experience, making a Stanley cup a badge of honor for anyone holding one — proof that they lived through the experience. Like an “I survived Alcatraz” T-shirt. 

I own four of the cups, which I consider a testament to both my tenacity and my susceptibility to getting sucked into influencer trends.

I ordered my first Stanley out of spite. I was anticipating disappointment. I assumed the tumblers could never live up to the hype, and I was prepared to tell anyone willing to listen that they’re not worth the hassle or the price tag. I planned to make being anti-Stanley a major tenet of my personality and online presence because truly, few things in life offer a sense of superiority quite like not liking something everyone else does. But much to the chagrin of the contrarian in me, I loved the mug. And ordered three more. Now, not a day goes by that I don’t use at least one of my Stanleys. I keep two at work — one for water and one for soda, and two at home — one for water and one for soda. I can fit nearly three cans of Diet Coke in one Stanley and two huge scoops of ice that stay in solid form for an entire day. In trying to prove a point, I have become one of the masses I thought I knew better than.

Pop by any Utah pool this summer and you’ll spot a sea of brightly colored 40-ounce mugs perched next to parents in lounge chairs, filled with ice and DietCokeImeanwater.

Parody videos on TikTok and Instagram mock the Utah mom with her Lulu Lemon leggings, van full of kids, unique names for said kids, her Goldendoodle, and the Stanley cup forever in the cupholder. 

But the ubiquity of the Stanley is a testament to the marketing power of those Utah moms, many of them influencers, who are driving the Stanley craze. Those same moms mocked in the reels and TikToks are building empires, moving markets and pushing products onto the pages of The New York Times.

It was after I saw a few influencers holding Stanleys in their impossibly clean kitchens surrounded by well-groomed children that the mugs first hit my radar. After my own reluctant conversion, I proselytized the cup on my feed, as did those whom I had convinced. It’s trickle-down influenenomics and it’s key to a savvy marketing plan.

Stanley uses an affiliate model, offering influencers a commission on every sale. Yes. It can feel a little jarring to learn that the woman on Instagram whom you are in a parasocial relationship with is actually getting a cut of the sales on the products she tells you she can’t live without. But the good news is we’re a decade into influencer marketing, and anyone who’s spent a minute online can tell when an online celebrity is less than enthused about the product they’ve been told to sell. Because most influencers can’t act, their excitement about a product can, and should, be believed. And all influencers seem genuinely thrilled to own one or 19 Stanleys.

“We knew (the Stanley) needed to be talked about and shown,” says Alpine resident Linley Hutchinson of The Buy Guide. “These influencers really take the time to cater to their audience. They know what their followers want and need to hear.”

It took some convincing on the part of the women of The Buy Guide — Hutchinson who lives in Alpine, Utah, and her two cousins Ashlee LeSeuer (Carlsbad, California) and Taylor Cannon (Purchase, New York) — to get Stanley to pivot to this model of marketing. “They weren’t selling to women,” Hutchinson says, explaining that the best way to sell to women is through Instagram. “That’s how (moms) shop these days. We don’t have time to browse the internet. It’s so nice to be able to hop on social media and be told what to buy.” She says she and her partners knew there was an army of women who would love the cup as much as they do.

it might be the Stanley’s scarcity that makes it the hottest new trend among Utah moms and a growing community of mug-havers nationwide.

The Stanley cup was one of the first products Hutchinson, LeSeur, and Cannon featured on The Buy Guide. When they learned Stanley planned to discontinue the Adventure Quencher, they tried to reach executives at the company to talk them out of it. Just in time, Emily Maynard of “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” fame posted a photo with the Stanley. The Buy Guide had sent her the mug in their first influencer-marketing push.

Lauren Solomon, a sales manager at Stanley saw Maynard’s post and immediately recognized the profit potential. So she reached out to The Buy Guide. Understanding The Buy Guide’s vision, Solomon helped the women purchase 5,000 cups to sell to their followers. They sold all 5,000 cups in five days. Solomon advocated for The Buy Guide until Stanley agreed to join an affiliate platform.

Stanley has sold hundreds of thousands of Stanley cups since deploying affiliate marketing. Sales of the Adventure Quencher have increased 275% year over year, and the wait list for the cup numbers nearly 100,000 names.

Matt Navarro, vice president of global sales at Stanley says The Buy Guide provided unique reach and insight into a new consumer Stanley had yet to access. “We leaned into supplying significant quantities in stylish, trendy colors, and as quickly as we launched them on our site, they sold out within a matter of minutes,” Navarro says. “Reaching this new consumer audience has been incredible for us to be a part of and is the result of great people and great partners.”

Like all trends, the Stanley Adventure Quencher craze will eventually fade and the people of Instagram will move on to the hottest new influencer-hocked must-have household item. But the citizens of Utah will have cupboards full of chambray, grapefruit and shrub-colored mugs that they will continue to take to the pool, the zoo and the park for as long as the insulation holds. The Stanleys will be with us for a long time yet.

And as for me? This morning was another drop and I pulled the trigger on mug No. 5.