A couple of weeks ago, Liquid Death announced they had raised $75 million in Series C funding round that values the water brand at more than $500 million. Former Netflix director Mike Cessario founded the brand back in 2018. Despite the name, Liquid Death is nothing but good old-fashioned H2O, served in a tallboy can.
Mike Cessario said that during the 2008 Warped Tour, he noticed energy drink companies heavily sponsor rock bands and rock tours. However, when speaking to the bands, he learned that they preferred to drink water while performing, but had to put water in an energy drink can due to their sponsorship requirements. This led him to create a water brand that the bands actually enjoy drinking while performing.
Cessario’s background playing in punk and heavy metal bands influenced Liquid Death’s branding, which speaks to the straight-edgers that eschew alcohol and drugs. Mike Cessario says the brand was initially designed for heavy metal and punk rock fans who immediately understand the humor behind the brand and its campaigns.
Liquid Death’s Branding: Nothing murders your thirst better than water
Having worked on several viral promotions for Netflix, including campaigns for “House of Cards,” “Narcos,” and “Stranger Things,” Mike Cessario is familiar with eye-catching marketing. He shot the first Liquid Death commercial for $1.5k and spent $3k on paid Facebook ads. Within three months, Liquid Death had more Facebook followers than Aquafina, and the ad had more than 3 million views.
In 2020, Liquid Death released an album on Spotify called “Greatest Hates” made up of haters’ comments and product reviews the company has received online. The heavy metal album includes songs like “Fire Your Marketing Guy” and “I thought this was alcohol.”
Talking about some “extremes,” Mike Cessario had the face of a random Liquid Death customer tattooed on his arm after the customer chugged a can of Liquid Death water under 15 seconds for 365 days!
When Liquid Death first launched in 2019, the brand was backed by many tech notables. Some of them included the Dollar Shave Club’s founder and CEO, Michael Dubin; the Twitter co-founder Biz Stone; and Jen Rubio, the co-founder of the luggage brand Away. Since then, Liquid Death has partnered with a handful of celebrities, such as Jow Manganiello, Steve Aoki, and Wiz Khalifa.
Their newest level of brand partnership is that with Tony Hawk to sell a limited edition line of skateboards infused with the legendary skater’s actual blood!
Liquid Death’s Higher Purpose: Plastic vs. Aluminum
Liquid Death might be taking a funny and playful approach when marketing the brand. But the brand is deadly serious about one thing: killing plastic.
A report from Aluminum Asociation has shown that 73% of an aluminum can is made of recycled material. Aluminum cans are more environmentally friendly than boxed or bottled water. This is partly because plastic comes from petroleum or natural gas, most of which is never recycled, and it is not currently biodegradable. Consequently, plastic ends up in landfills or else in nature, where it breaks down into tiny particles that pollute ecosystems, food chains, and our bodies.
Liquid Death has partnered with a handful of non-profit organizations to further its efforts to curb climate change. At the same time, 10% of the profits from each can are donated to help kill plastic pollution.
The Future of Liquid Death
Liquid Death’s Mountain Water and Sparkling Water are currently sold in major retail stores in the U.S., including Whole Foods, Target, and 7-Eleven. Liquid Death’s deal with Amazon in 2021 accelerated their business growth.
Cessario said Liquid Death recently passed an important metric Amazon uses to decide when to sell a product wholesale. This means that the water brand no longer gets charged for every case of water that it sells through Amazon. In other words, they are no longer selling directly to consumers on Amazon. Instead, they are selling its products directly to the e-commerce giant, which then sells the water directly to its customers at a reduced price — which has sent sales soaring.
Mike Cessario thinks there is much room for the company to grow, including new flavored waters that suit the brand’s punk-metal ethos: Berry It Alive, Severed Lime, and Mango Chainsaw. It’s hard to ignore how masterfully creative the brand is.
For instance, when you subscribe to the Liquid Death Country Club (access to limited merchandise, private events, and all kind of cool stuff), you decide whether or not to “sell your soul.” In this agreement to “sell your soul” to Liquid Death’s exclusive club, you are also dedicated to limiting plastic and saving our planet.
Phil Edelstein uses three emojis to describe the brand in his article: 💡💀💸.
After all, I would just add one more, ♻️, to describe their unique brand personality.