Background: Hubert Hansen, along with his 3 sons, founded Hansen’s in 1935 after they had begun selling juice in Southern California. The company changed names and hands (within the family) a few times until 1988 when they filed for bankruptcy. Later that year, the company was acquired by the California CoPackers Corporation and renamed Hansen’s Natural Company. In 2002, Hansen’s Natural created Monster Energy drinks which quickly picked up popularity. Hansen’s Natural launched Peace Tea Co. in 2009, and several other drinks before and after. Monster Energy drinks picked up so much popularity, that in 2012 Hansen’s Natural changed their named to Monster Beverage Corporation. In 2015, Coca-Cola took ownership of all of Monster Beverage’s non-energy products, including Peace Tea Co. Coca-Cola is the current owner of the Peace Tea Co. brand.
Peace Tea was created to be more than just a drink; it was created to “stand for social obligation, social awareness, benevolence, compassion, and soul.” The company wanted to move away from the commercial use of the peace symbol, so they decided to make and promote Peace Tea as a work of art. The goal of the can designs was to “come across visually as natural, down-to-earth, hand-made, and give an overall sense of unity.” Artist John Malloy (FLuX) was approached to create the logo and designs and worked closely with brand managers Steve Jugan and Ginger Conrad and Lisa Lopuck the Creative Director to create the 13+ can designs and advertisement and apparel designs. His creative designs reflected the values Peace Tea stands for and celebrated peaceful revolutions throughout history and around the globe. Malloy even created each different flavor’s can to represent a different historical peaceful movement. Malloy’s distinctive artwork has always been synonymous with the Peace Tea brand since its beginning stages in 2008.
Since the ownership change in 2015, there have been several shifts in the brand. The biggest one coming at the beginning of 2017 with the change of the can design. Malloy’s meaningful art is no longer being used and is being replaced with monochromatic cans that have a single generic peace sign. While the can design may seem trivial, the can represents the Peace Tea story and the founder’s dream. I have no doubt that Coca-Cola sees Peace Tea solely as a business gain. In an article published on the day the Monster Beverage deal closed, Coca-Cola calls the deal a “strategic partnership.” The removal of the original expressive and significant designs is just the first step in Coca-Cola’s dismissal of the Peace Tea Co. founders’ dreams and goals.
“It can, in the form of a mere liquid in a can, be your own form of poetry, art, music, philosophy, belief system. Peace Tea is whatever you want it to be.”
A petition has been started to bring back the old cans. Who knows if it will work, but it doesn’t hurt to sign it if you don’t want big businesses to win.