How the Crips launched their own cola company

Trigger Warning is a short docu-series on Netflix where Killer Mike, a successful rapper and social activist, solves complex problems in society by radical means. The series is very entertaining and thought-provoking. My favourite part of the series was episode 3, “White Gang Privilege”. Here’s the episode description:

“Concerned that the Crips and other gangs haven’t monetised their larger-than-life brand, Killer Mike helps them launch a product to rival Coca-Cola”.

The problem

When you think of the Crips and Bloods, what words come to mind?

Guns? Violence? Drugs? Black on black crime?

This is understandable when you consider how the media has portrayed gangs for a long time. However, according to Killer Mike and his friends in the Crips, they are more like a “street fraternity”.

The episode highlights the double standards of society when it comes to the opinions of certain groups. In this case, comparisons were made with Hell’s Angels, who are often glorified and can sell their own merchandise, despite them being a gang.

The Crips are a well-known gang, but why is it that they aren’t receiving the same benefits as the Hell’s Angels when it comes to their brand? Here is how Killer Mike addressed this.

POTENTIAL SPOILERS FOR TRIGGER WARNING AHEAD

The solution

Creating an identity

As soon as the graphic designer walked in the room, I knew that the episode was right down my alley. Coming from a graphic design background, I was intrigued as to how they would manage to create an iconic logo for a gang affiliated product. To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of the final logo, but it seemed to make the clients happy and send the right message. Visually, the blue can design stands out when compared with similar products.

Informing the masses

The main issue that the Crips faced was the public perception of what the gang is represents. They had a great product, but their name made it difficult to get shops to stock on their shelves. This meant that they had to sit down and talk with their consumers face to face in order to correct them.

Obviously, you can’t talk to every single person in person, so a good solution to this would be to use digital media to filter out the bad with the good. This way you change the reputation of the brand.

Joining forces

Another glaring problem with launching a gang affiliated product is the issue of rival gangs, in this case, the Bloods. A potential customer went as far as to say that drinking a blue can will probably get you shot because you’re supporting the Crips. Mike decided to get some older members of the Bloods to launch their own product, Blood Pop, and stage a competition between the 2 at a food market. This eventually showed that the gangs can be in the same proximity without a shootout occurring.

They even went as far as creating a promo video that pokes fun at gang culture.

Differentiating the brand; sugar cane, no high fructose

They didn’t just make another brand of cola. They made a brand of cola with a twist. Although it’s not healthy, Crip Cola IS healthier than Coca-Cola. It has no high fructose used in the ingredients because it’s made with natural sugar cane. Sure, it’ll still kill you if you drink too much of it, but it’ll kill you a bit slower than what you normally choose to drink

Conclusion

Killer Mike was met with a challenge that seemed almost impossible. However, thanks to some creative thinking he was able to overcome people’s perceptions of a group and launch a successful product.

There’s also a lesson in here not to take yourself too seriously. The brand is very tongue-in-cheek (as you can see with the video below), if they went for a corporate look I don’t believe it would have been as powerful.

Trigger Warning is available to watch on Netflix.