Posted June 23, 2012 by Big Red Boots in straight up energy drink

Drupal Connect Energy Drink

It does not really matter what kind of convention you end up in – from sexy ones in las Vegas to alcohol fueled beer conventions in Denver, It is hard to separate yourself at a convention from all the other hundreds of vendors out there.  I I have been lucky enough to get to go to Drupalcon, a Big Ol’ convention for web geeks who like to talk about open source technology and building websites that can change the world.

And I am not really exaggerating.

For those who aren’t in the web universe, Drupal is a platform in which Web developers can make a blog-ish site for people quickly and easily – and it all can be downloaded and installed for free.  There are a number of other platforms that do this too, but Drupal is the only one I know of where their user base loves to get together to party like rockstars ( I have seen some coders actually get asked for autographs), sing songs made about Drupal and bond under a giant iconic smiling logo. It is kinda cool and kinda scary – like at any moment, Dries Buytaert, the guy who’s behind Drupal, is going to start handing out little dixie cups of grape Kool Aid to everyone, or at least create the contrib module for it (jimjones-7.x-1.0.tar.gz).  But still, the conventions are cool and geeky fun, and a great way to connect and see what companies are out there pushing the Drupal message into the streets like Hare Krishnas on a quota.
One of these drupal web shops is Drupal Connect, a web development company that was marketing their wares on the floor of the convention center with one of my favorite bits of swag – a private label energy drink!  Yes, I know Drupal Connect is not in the business of energy drinks, but they did go out and find a private label drink company to make this for them and get some killer swag for the Con. Between this and the cupcakes they made they were the stars of the show.

So coming from the standpoint that this is a drink made especially for one event, it is  great indicator of the base level for most private label clone energy drink places. I have reviewed a couple of the standouts, like Drink Ink, but this one was just your off-the-shelf Red Bull clone formula – what you get most of the time when you go to a private label for a marketing energy drink.  For those not in the know, private label energy drink companies create a great marketing tool – making drinks for all sorts of occasions, from conventions weddings to musc festivals.  Basically, the client designs the label, send the template to the company, picks out a list of features including colors or flavors, and then they drum up a bunch of their energy drinks for the occasion.  Boston America uses the idea for churning out their novelty energy drinks like Moes, Emily the Strange and Booty Sweat for Hot Topic – tossing on a new label as they see a market, but mostly a person would get these in a goodie bag or as a takeaway rather  than something purchased at a grocery store.  All in all, it is not a bad business idea, as I have covered when creating my own Possessed by Caffeine energy drink.

In terms of a company, Drupal Connect is a pretty cool web design firm, making and supporting some big clients switching to Drupal as their internet platform, like Sony Music Entertainment, GE , the New York Stock Exchange, and NBC.    It is fair to say they probably aren’t energy drink afficianados, but this is a pretty typical drink people get when they ask for this kind of marketing.

In terms of packaging, Drupal Connect did a decent idea of printing up a nice label, although I would have appreciated the caffeine amount on the label too. Most companies do not force their clients to put the caffeine content on their drinks – like they force them to have a nutritional label.   It they want to put the caffeine content on the can, they first have to ask the manufacturer how much is in there, and then they need to add it into their own artwork.  You can imagine, this almost never is done – which does not make any sense.

How should Drupal Connect know that there was not going to be a caffeine listing on their energy drink?  If they knew about the energy drink market a little more they could have hook_altered the display.   By contacting the maintainer of the drink, they could have retrieved the data as to the correct caffeine content and apply it directly to the theme in its own block. This is not their business – but it is the business o f the private label energy drink manufacturer.  They really should have had the caffeine amount on their template they as their clients to design on.  Not having one just does not make any sense.

Mechanically, Drupal Connect did not really do a whole lot of research in to energy drink design.   On the manufacturer’s part, they did a decent job with the shrink wrap.   It lasts a decent amount of time, and is well made enough to stand the rigors of late night drinking and coding sessions that happened all around downtown Denver. However, for the next time Drupal Connect, or anyone who is making energy drinks for a takeaway, here are some things to keep in mind.

  1. Put your drink name on their twice – a big one on one side and a small one on the other.  This ensures that even if your drink is facing weirdly in someone’s hand or on a cafeteria table people could still see what it is from and get out their brand.
  2. Put on your messaging.  There should be enough room even on a small label to get what your slogan out.  Something that tells people what you are and why everyone should get to know them
  3. Put on your contact info.  At least having your website would let people who seemed interested in your slogan would come to you if they had more information.  

Drupal Connect is a straight on red bull clone, from the herbal odor when you pop open the can down to the slightly bitter and medicinal finish.  This is not early a bad thing, as it is about the closest thing I have tasted to a real Red Bull in some time.  As a matter of fact, I am not sure if I could taste the difference between this and a real Sugar Free Red Bull,   Both have that slightly metallic edge coming from the herbs or the preservative, and like a tpl.php file it is a little pre-processed in the end.

It was kinda surprising they went with going for a mainstream flavor, as Drupal is anything but a clone.  I am thinking if they got Four Kitchens involved they might have been able to theme a new flavor profile that was a bit more unique.  When you get one of these as a takeaway they usually allow you to pick out different flavors or colors you would like it to be.  It would have been extra need if this one came in deep Drupal blue or at least aquamarine .
There was a bit of coffee occasionally served during the con, but it was a ways to the nearest Starbucks, and if you did manage to find a carafe of the Sysco provided coffee for the event, it was only slightly drinkable.  I was elated that some company went the distance to give me what my body was craving.   I drank two of these in short order and sat through a rousing presentation of “User eXperience for Open Source: how to galvanize a community” and tried to pay attention to learning about how to improve the user experience on building a website with Drupal without nodding off or daydreaming. I actually found this to be more interesting than I expected, and even felt a little like I could make a difference to the Drupal community and the universe at large by the end of it.  I even stayed awake and energized through the whole hour long talk – and I think the energy drinks had quite a lot to do with that too.  

The ingredients were printed in blue and tinymce enough that I had to git to a bright hub to read the dark label and check out the ingredients.

This had the basic energy stuff you would expect to find in a clone; taurine, b vitamins, d-glucurolactone and inositol.  The one thing found that was a little strange is that it was made with aspartame to sweeten it, not the more usual sucralose/ace-k non calorie sweetener.  While I do appreciate that they went with a non-caloric drink for this one,  the choice of the drink manufacturer to go with something that is full of such controversy is a little strange.

Yes, as an energy drink Drupal Connect could have done a bit better.  However, they were also the only ones considerate enough to provide the thing all developers crave in one form or another – sweet sweet caffeine – and for that I am very thankful.

Big Red Boots