AriZona 20 Years: Wesley and Spencer Vultaggio

MIGUEL ENAMORADO: Did you always know that you wanted to go into the family business? Who entered the business first?

WESLEY VULTAGGIO: We never felt like we were ever “going into” the family business since we have been involved from the start. Even when the company started in 1992, and we were kids, our father would come home with new flavor combinations and have us try them. Mom would be working on packaging designs with much of the inspiration coming from our own southwest décor at home. We were always part of the business.  It is part of our DNA.

ENAMORADO: What would you be doing if you didn’t work at AriZona?

WESLEY: As the creative director of AriZona, I have always had a passion for building a brand. If it weren’t here at AriZona, I would probably be building a brand of luxury, niche hotels where I could create unique spaces that tell a story.

SPENCER VULTAGGIO: Much like the space that we have created through our social media channels—a home for everyone to come together, I would probably open restaurants where good friends can gather over great food and drink and exchange ideas.

ENAMORADO: Is this first design contest that AriZona has held? How did the idea come about?

SPENCER: This is the first design contest for the brand and the idea came to us naturally. Our fans are truly enthusiastic and have always been an important part of everything that we do. We wanted to use our 20th anniversary as a way to show our true appreciation and give fans an even bigger platform to be heard.

WESLEY:  The creativity that we receive from our fans has always been the momentum that challenges us to push the envelope in our own packaging. This time, we wanted our fans to know how creative we truly think they are; giving them free range to choose the winning flavor and design for this very special 20th celebration.

ENAMORADO: The contest first launched with a flavor vote between Cherry Lime Rickey, Orange Creamsicle and Chocolate Fudge Float, how did you pick these flavors?

WESLEY: We started with six old-fashioned American classics and began the voting at our corporate offices where it was narrowed down to three. We are an all-American company with roots in Brooklyn and we wanted to produce a 20th anniversary flavor that spoke to that. We captured video throughout the contest and had a flavor panel of experts that commented on their favorite of the three, which helped consumers with their final vote.

SPENCER: We also captured footage of consumers on the street, and provided samples for them. Cherry Lime Rickey was the fan favorite.

ENAMORADO: 20 years ago, when AriZona started, you were 8 and 11—how aware were you of what was going on?

SPENCER: We knew our dad was doing something he really believed in which made the beverages very real to us even at a young age. We were always excited and proud when the flavors we liked and the designs we responded to were actually being produced. Our father built AriZona for his family and has always run the company as a true family business where our input, opinions and feedback have been influential in the end result.

ENAMORADO: Where would you like to be 20 years from now?

WESLEY: Exactly where I am. We are very fortunate to come to work every day and create new exciting beverages with equally exciting designs.

SPENCER: I feel the same. We are working on many innovative products now and growing our partnerships with other influencers from all different arenas. I look forward to what the next 20 years will have in store.

ENAMORADO: Wesley, as Creative Director you work with graphic designs all the time, what makes a design standout in your eyes? Do you have a favorite current ice tea design?

WESLEY: To me, a design stands out when it tells a story. It has to embody a feeling that sparks curiosity and creates interest. My favorite design will always be our classic Green tea; it set the mood for the brand and told consumers just because it’s a beverage doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be beautiful.

ENAMORADO: Spencer, do you think it is easier to communicate with consumers through Facebook, or through Twitter? Why?

SPENCER: They are different vehicles that I think are equally important for different reasons. Facebook allows a larger conversation to start, giving people a bigger platform to share ideas, tell stories and post pictures. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about a real time event. Twitter is a great vehicle for instant gratification. I post real time news and updates for people on the go allowing me to inform fans of new products; deals running at our c-stores and real-time events.

ENAMORADO: Would you both consider yourselves to be “visual” thinkers?

WESLEY: Definitely. You can’t grow up around AriZona products and not be a “visual” thinker.  Our mother is an artist and our father creates unique flavor combinations through his vision. We are the product of visual thinkers.

ENAMORADO: What were you both looking for in the winning can? Were you looking for a completely different design, or one that referenced the AriZona tradition?

SPENCER: We left the voting to our fans and we are happy with the top five finalists chosen. We received thousands of submissions that were all uniquely extraordinary and we would have been happy with any of them as the winning design.

ENAMORADO: Are you fans of golf? Do you know how the relationship between golf and iced tea began?

WESLEY: As we have gotten older, we have become bigger fans of the sport. Spencer is a good golfer and getting better so I better catch up.

SPENCER: [laughs] I have been playing golf for a few years now and have learned to love the sport. The AriZona relationship with golf began 10 years ago when Mr. Palmer’s half iced tea and half lemonade combination caught on and we bottled it for the masses. We now have several versions and the line continues to be one of our top sellers. The Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear Lemonade line was just launched a few months back and that has been a huge hit in the marketplace. It seems that golf inspired beverages have a natural place in the beverage world.

ENAMORADO: How did you select the panel of judges?

WESLEY: We wanted a group of creative thinkers from all walks of life that are leaders in their own craft.

SPENCER: We also wanted everyone to be able to relate to the panel; therefore we created a panel of judges that speak to a broad audience of various demographics and interests.

ENAMORADO: How has living in New York expanded or changed your experience with art and design?

WESLEY: NYC is one of those special places where you are inspired simply by walking down the street. Living in NYC has definitely widened my perception of art and design. Art doesn’t have to be so literal, it can be fun and quirky and the interpretation is very personal. I think that’s a very cool thing.

SPENCER: I feel the same. I see art in the details in NYC. The architecture is incredible. If you walk around NYC and look for the details, its amazing what you can find and how it can inspire you.

ENAMORADO: What are your escapes from work?

WESLEY: Traveling to foreign lands is always an inspiration.

SPENCER: Travel, friends, and family.

ENAMORADO: What is a drink that you came up by default?

WESLEY: There have been a few, but our most recent is our CocoZona Expresso. I love our regular coconut water, CocoZona, because it always kept me super hydrated and refreshed. I started adding it to my iced coffee last summer to get a kick and rehydrate all at once. It tasted so good that I started making it for others and everyone loved it—so I figured; why not bottle it for all our fans to try as well?

ENAMORADO: What has been your favorite part of this contest?

SPENCER: Looking through all the designs has been a lot of fun. We received thousands of entries and they were all incredibly received. Its been exciting to see how enthusiastic people are about the brand and even more so to see the creativity out there. It has been inspirational.

WESLEY: Agreed, there is so much talent out there and it’s been so interesting and fun to see how each person translates the Cherry Lime Rickey flavor into design.

For more from AriZona’s design panel, click here.