How Liquid Death made canned water cool

It looks like an energy drink and behaves like a beer, but it’s actually just mountain water. Here’s how Liquid Death built a cult-like following with its heavy metal branding

“Thanks for supporting the cult,” is how Liquid Death signs off its customer service emails – which, by the way, aren’t sent from a ‘representative’ or an ‘executive’, but a ‘Customer Service Overlord’. It’s part of what the brand’s VP of creative Andy Pearson describes as “the magic of Liquid Death”. And it’s potent magic they’re working with, with the company valued at $700m this year, despite only launching in 2019.

Pearson, who joined the business a year ago, believes Liquid Death might be the world’s first truly viral product. As the legend goes, co-founder and CEO Mike Cessario started the business by producing a $1,500 video, putting $600 of paid media behind it, and launching Liquid Death onto social media. Millions of views later, distributors and grocery stores were getting in touch to stock the canned water.

“The original idea was to can the water so it looks like beer and have some fun with that,” says Pearson. “They went through a bunch of different [name] ideas and the thought was that we have zero marketing dollars, and we’re competing on shelves. What’s the one thing we can name this so that if you saw it on your shelf, you’d have to take out your phone, take a picture of it, and send it to someone or post about it. It really was, from the very beginning, a product designed to go viral.”