LaCroix CEO Nick Caporella Compares Running Business to Caring for People With Disabilities
On Thursday, National Beverage Company, maker of the flavored sparkling water LaCroix, chairman/CEO Nick Caporella explained the company’s sinking sales in a press release titled “We Just Love Our LaCroix’ Consumers Chant.” Caporella’s wide-ranging statement apologized for poor sales performance but then compared managing a brand to caring for people with disabilities in a statement advocates are calling ableist.
“We are truly sorry for these results stated above,” Caporella is quoted in the press release following lower than expected sales numbers. “Negligence nor mismanagement nor woeful acts of God were not the reasons — much of this was the result of injustice!” He continued:
Managing a brand is not so different from caring for someone who becomes handicapped. Brands do not see or hear, so they are at the mercy of their owners or care providers who must preserve the dignity and special character that the brand exemplifies.
— Rick Godden (@RickGodden) March 8, 2019
LaCroix compares managing a brand to managing “someone who has become handicapped”. Because disability is shorthand for lacking agency, yeah sure of course it’s the same thing as being a non-person abstract corporate entity. https://t.co/U0raUeiHa1
— Lars SB, ABD (@LStoltzfusBrown) March 8, 2019
Objectifying disabled people, promoting the stereotype of disability being the equivalent of helplessness and voicelessness, infantilizing disability, and using archaic language. It’s the perfect storm of ableist views in one quote. https://t.co/2JXP3BEf5B
— Mon Still (@Mons_Tweets) March 8, 2019
Can we please not portray disabled people as passive, voiceless objects “at the mercy of their owners or care providers”? ???? I’m offended by this comparison from the CEO of the National Beverage Corp. — which makes LaCroix. pic.twitter.com/VRwBMzLv0Q
— Amanda Morris (@AmandaMoMorris) March 7, 2019
Don’t buy Le Croix anymore. There are plenty of other fizzy barely flavored waters out there to choose from. This is dehumanizing to people with disabilities. #lacroix #MoneyTalks pic.twitter.com/9dgPogcqFu
— Emma Raven (@EggplantEmoG) March 8, 2019
A National Beverage spokesman attempted to clarify the statement for Vox. The spokesperson said:
You have to look [at that line] in its full context. Nick Caporella is a very caring person, and he’s not young. He works every day to make products and excite customers with the brand, and what he was saying is that the loving care one provides someone with special needs is what he does every day with the company.
A National Beverage spokesman told MarketWatch Caporella’s comparison to people with disabilities meant that “it just requires a lot of tender, loving care.” The spokesperson continued by saying, “We are not a typical company. What comes out in the writings and the releases is the passion and intensity that we have for our consumer and for our products.”
This isn’t the company’s first PR nightmare. Caporella is currently involved in two sexual harassment lawsuits, in which he is accused of inappropriately touching two male pilots on over 30 trips, according to reports. Caporella has denied these claims.
National Beverage is also involved in a class action lawsuit filed in October 2018 for allegedly misrepresenting that LaCroix uses only all-natural products. The lawsuit alleges that testing revealed synthetic or artificial flavors in the popular sparkling water, including one used in cockroach insecticide. The company denies these claims as well.
“No doubt, the sound and personality of the word LaCroix, coupled with the awesome experience of its essence and taste … is unique,” Caporella concluded the latest press release. “Just ask any LaCroix consumer … Would you trade away that LaLa feeling? ‘No way, they shout — We just love our LaCroix!’ I am positive they respond this way each and every time.”