How Liquid Death built a $700M business with a cult following in 3 years
By Daniel Murray
|Nothing murders your thirst better than water. |
Yes, we’re starting off HOT in today’s lesson.
Let’s jump into how Liquid Death built a $700M business with an army of fans, in only 3 years.
Don’t be scared, it’s just water.
Founded in 2019 by former Netflix director, Mike Cessario, Liquid Death took the world by storm with their edgy marketing.
Before anyone had even taken a SIP of Liquid Death, they were going viral.
Their first YouTube video was seen by over 3 million people.
The video featured an actress exposing the raw truths behind the bottled water industry while waterboarding someone with Liquid Death.
Cessario spent $1,500 to make the video and additional $3,000 on paid media to promote this first ever campaign with Liquid Death.
Within 3 months, Liquid Death had 100K followers on Facebook. More than industry giant, Aquafina.
But how did this beverage behemoth get its start?
It was all thanks to punk rock.
Cessario was living in Denver at the time and went to see a few friends perform at the 2008 Vans Warped Tour.
He immediately noticed all of the performers were drinking Monster energy during their sets.
Or so he thought.
Because Monster was a sponsor of the tour, the artists needed to be seen drinking out of Monster cans.
So they would fill their Monster cans up with water in order to stay hydrated during their sets.
And the sparks started flying.
Cessario began working on a public service ad campaign to expose the health risks of sugary energy drinks.
He presented an idea of canned water to a client that “[poked] fun at energy drinks.”
The client hated it. But Cessario kept workshopping the idea.
And wha-lah, two years later Liquid Death was BORN.
But it wasn’t all sunshines and rainbows.
Liquid Death entered a cutthroat beverage industry dominated by corporations with deeper pockets ($$) than your favorite sweatpants.
Cessario knew there was no way he could afford to market his product to the masses in traditional fashion. So what did he do?
Turned to a marketing hack the team at Liquid Death still uses to this day: asking yourself, “what’s the dumbest possible idea?” and executing it.
A 10 song album called Greatest Hates by Liquid Death, fully composed of hate comments towards the brand.
A perfect way to troll the haters and build an army of fans.
My personal favorite song on the album, “Fire Your Marketing Guy”, just resonates with me – LOL
Did Liquid Death stop there?
No, the pinnacle for marketers was right around the corner…
The Super Bowl.
For context, a 30-second super bowl ad costs $5.5M. Way out of the startup’s budget.
But Liquid Death needed to find a way to capitalize on the millions of eyeballs focused on the big game.
So they placed a $50,000 bet on the underdog Bengals to win, sent a witch to cast a spell on the opponents, and vowed to donate 50% of the winnings to help kill plastic pollution.
Liquid Death became the first brand to openly wager on the Super Bowl and managed to stay on brand while doing it.
A masterclass in building buzz and brand cohesion through and through.
From the jump, Liquid Death made it their mission to KILL plastic pollution, with 10% of profits from each can sold donated.
Their unique aluminum cans are made of 73% recycled material, infinitely recyclable, and a blast to drink out of.
Liquid Death killed it with their marketing and murdered their competition.
You will def catch me in the aisles at Whole Foods stocking up on their new sparkling water flavors.