Sure. It's things like stevia-flavored Coke Life that seem to get all the attention these days. But take a longer look at the beverage industry and you'll see the same thing we're seeing: Suddenly the most interesting, most creative, and most competitive part of the business is packaging design.
Drink companies of all sorts — soda makers, juice companies, distillers, and brewers — are pouring resources and talent into making cans and bottles in a way that's as unprecedented as it is fascinating.
We're not sure what is driving the surge in creativity, but it's clear that the craze has three distinct components.
The talent war
Earlier this month, Publicis Group bought a design firm called Turner Duckworth. Publicis said it planned to move Turner Duckworth into its Leo Burnett ad agency. That alone would be worth noting, if only because it seems to be part of a larger movement in which advertising agencies are investing more heavily in design.
But what made this particular deal so noteworthy is that Turner Duckworth is probably the best-known designer of beverage containers. The firm, with offices in both London and San Francisco, built its reputation starting in 2006 with the redesign of Diet Coke and a full refresh of Coke packaging.
Interestingly, Leo Burnett's decision to buy the design geniuses behind Coke comes roughly a year after Pepsi hired a design genius of its own: the legendary Mauro Porcini.
The technology boom
But nowadays, there are breakthroughs in beverage-container technology seemingly every day. Sometimes it's just a variation of those twist-off tops. Coke, for example, created a version that requires two bottles to work (it's supposed to promote friendship), while Vittel has unveiled a cap that reminds you when you need to hydrate.
Sometimes the new technology is just lighter and stronger versions of the materials already widely in use, like when Bud Light created its new "platinum" bottles.
But technology gets the most interesting when it leads to beverage containers that "do" something, like Heineken's cold-activated cans, which reveal graphical images of ice when the can is chilled, and are based, of course, on the breakthrough cold-activated cans from Coors in 2011.
Even cooler — if you'll excuse the pun — are the new self-cooling cans introduced last year by West Coast Chill ... which are not to be confused with the self-heating cans from HeatGenie and Crown Holdings.
Art for art's sake
If there was a time when cans and bottles were mere pedestrian items, that time has ended. Today a beverage container often rises to the level of art.
Sometimes this is because the designer is recognized as one with an artistic level of talent, like when Coke unveiled limited edition bottles by Jean-Paul Gaultier.
But truly great art comes only from truly great artists. Later this year, for the first time in history, a vodka bottle designed by arguably one of the greatest artists of the past century will appear on store shelves.
Of course, that's not such a big deal anymore. Beautiful, artsy vodka bottles are commonplace these days.