Sparkling water behemoth LaCroix seems to be facing a bit of social media backlash targeted toward two products designed to honor culture in South Florida. In a press release, the brand said new Coffea Exotica, Coconut Cola and Cubana flavors were created to celebrate the Cuban, Hispanic and South American influences that give Miami its "lively" and "exotic" personality, but some think the cans' "street scene" designs are tone-deaf.
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The Coconut Cola can merely features a coconut, but the other two flavors show a tall and slender, yet curvy half-naked woman. On the Coffea Exotica label she's dressed in a shirt, short skirt and heels, posed so that her knee is on top of a cup, which reads "habana." The can for the Cubana - flavored with rum, mint and lime - shows her in a bikini perched at the rim of a mojito glass.
The can designs were not well received by public relations professional JennyLee Molina, who runs the Instagram account for 305 Cafecito. On January 3, she posted a photo of the new cans writing: "Can we all agree that the cheesy depiction of Cuba and our heritage by people who don't understand the U.S. Hispanic culture is a little insulting? This is a brand known for impeccable design and branding which we REALLY love but when they launched this product they completely missed the mark. Was this designed in 1996? These fonts are hurting our eyes, @lacroixwater. And what's with the bikini-clad girl? You can do better than that! And what is 'coffea?'" (Coffea is a coffee plant.)
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People in the comment section agreed with Molina, calling the new designs "a mockery," "cheap," "a mega fail," "tacky," and "a joke." According to a spokesperson for National Beverage Corporation, which owns LaCroix, the cans were already tested by 35,000 consumers - many of whom reportedly live in Cuban-American communities - who gave mostly positive feedback, so they are expected to rollout nationwide nonetheless.
A National Beverage Corporation spokesperson told Today.com the company was "a little taken aback" by Molina's post. The spokesperson also reportedly alleged that the Instagram account holder was someone who had interviewed to "potentially be involved in the launch [of the new sparkling water line]," but wasn't hired.
The Daily Meal reached out to LaCroix's parent company for comment, but has not received a response. Only time will tell whether or not LaCroix Cubana will become just another product that failed miserably.