Nick Caporella, the 82-year-old CEO of the National Beverage Corporation, is sorry. Deeply sorry — not for allegedly sexually assaulting two airline pilots, but for the failures of his most famous product, La Croix seltzer water. In a bizarre press release, Caporella verbally prostrated himself before investors and, as CNBC reported, blamed a 16 percent drop in shares on “injustice.” Somehow, it gets weirder from there:
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. It is important that LaCroix’s true character is not devalued intentionally — in any way. National Beverage Corp. is and will remain the preeminent innovator that adds zest and authenticity to the ‘sparkling water’ phenomenon in North America.
Corporate personhood is truly a plague! Caporella would not be the first CEO to anthropomorphize his product, though he’s certainly taken it to an extreme with a comparison that essentially dehumanizes people with disabilities. Caporella has earned a small measure of infamy for his colorful and bizarre official statements, as Mother Jones documented last year. In 2012, for instance, Caporella wrote:
Have you ever observed someone on a busy street trying to parallel park?! While it’s raining? Today, the license plate on that car would read — A M E R I C A !
In 2016, after Trump was elected president, Caporella celebrated:
America put a capital ‘H’ on Hope again recently and with that — a capital ‘H’ on Health again too … this puts us in the cockpit of innovation and the yoke in our hands. We are excited and feeling good about the future here at National Beverage!
Look, LaCroix will survive or it won’t. (Since its shares have been falling for years, maybe it really is in crisis, though Caporella denied this in a 2017 press release titled, in all caps, “FIZZ GROWS STRONGER!!”).
But its prospective demise is only troubling for one reason. There are workers who rely on a capricious old beverage billionaire’s whims to pay their bills — and who knows, some of those workers may also be care providers who look after living, breathing loved ones with disabilities. Caporella is the only person who’s devalued his beloved water, and his reputation is the only real threat to whatever the hell he means by LaCroix’s “true character.” All fine bodegas offer multiple seltzer options, and while no corporate CEO is without sin, I can only think of one seltzer mogul who’s been accused of sexual assault recently. Perhaps seltzer drinkers prefer purer options. Read the statement in full, below:
“We are truly sorry for these results stated above. Negligence nor mismanagement nor woeful acts of God were not the reasons — much of this was the result of injustice! 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. It is important that LaCroix’s true character is not devalued intentionally — in any way. National Beverage Corp. is and will remain the preeminent innovator that adds zest and authenticity to the ‘sparkling water’ phenomenon in North America,” stated Nick A. Caporella, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
“Additionally, gross margins were impacted by volume declines. Comparisons were further skewed by the adoption of the new tax act in the third quarter of the prior year, which included credits and rate reduction adjustments aggregating $11.3 million. Nothing herein mentioned has detracted from the ultimate value and future of our dynamic company.
There is no greater passion than the kind that creates the wonderful refreshment and contentment described as unique! No doubt, the sound and personality of the word LaCroix, coupled with the awesome experience of its essence and taste … is unique. One can be induced to purchase by cheapening price or giving away a product, but falling in love with a feeling of joy is the result of contentment. 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,” Caporella concluded.