The Deconstructed Brief
Death snip.JPG



Brand: Liquid Death
Agency: Mike Cessario


Young bros love their energy drinks. The category saw a sales increase of 5.8 percent in 2016 and is expected to rise 47 percent over the next five years, according to Mintel research.

For years, energy drink marketing has worked to make the category “edgy” by tapping into crazy stunts and real-life extreme events.

In this kind of heightened environment, how can you get anyone to notice plain old water?

One Thought:

Made from the deadliest stuff the planet.


Turn water into the most dangerous beverage on the planet. Liquid Death is a new brand of spring water that launched with an infomercial-style video that details how water kills.

From the video script: “Water isn’t cute. Water is deadly. It kills innocent surfers, snowboarders and kayakers. It even turns into concrete if you jump off a bridge.”

The video takes big swipes at energy drinks and “active” water brands. It shows young people crashing through a fluorescent light with their head and smoking an outrageously long blunt. It ends with an image of the spokesperson waterboarding a man with Liquid Death.

Liquid Death was created by Mike Cessario, chief creative officer at Doner L.A. (He was one of the people behind those cocaine lines for Netflix.) The Liquid Death video has earned 1.2 million views on Facebook in less than two months, with only $600 in paid media.

The brand is currently taking preorders at Cessario hopes to eventually get Liquid Death into places like music venues, bars and 7-Eleven

What they had to say:

“(A brand like) Old Spice is still designed to be a TV spot for a giant corporation. They still have to play by a lot of traditional rules,” said Mike Cessario. “We designed our spot for the internet, where there are very few rules.”

Lessons to be learned:

  • Borrow the good stuff. — It’s no coincidence that the Liquid Death cans look like beer cans. Liquid Death shamelessly borrows its attitude and design from products like beer, soda and energy drinks.
  • Speak the language. — Young people love stuff like explosions, zombies and loud music. (Who doesn’t?) Young people are also eating healthier. Sixty-four percent of those 18–34 said they are buying more healthy food than they did a year ago, according to Mintel research. Liquid Death is one of the few brands that attempts to balance both of these types of interests.
  • Speak the truth.The Liquid Death video drops a lot of truth bombs: Energy drinks cause diabetes and heart disease. Energy drinks spend billions to market themselves as kings of danger. Drinking a gallon of water in an hour can kill you. Presenting these unvarnished truths — unusual for this over-the-top category — makes it seem like Liquid Death has nothing to hide.
  • Don’t stop. — Cessario first tried to launch Liquid Death through Indiegogo, but it didn’t take off. The Facebook video was conceived as a market test. (Liquid Death is not Cessario’s first product. He launched Western Grace Brandy, a premium liquor company in Philadelphia.)