Why Liquid Death is our Brand of the Year 

What makes the water brand with the heavy-metal motif our favourite of 2022?

Liquid Death is the epitome of a brand that upended its category by being brash and different.

The bottled water category was dominated by plastic packaging, and brands that talk about babbling brooks and make promises about rejuvenating hydration.

Liquid Death put its water into beer-like tallboy cans decorated with melting skulls and invited its customers to ‘murder their thirst’. And the brand caught a lot of people off guard with its success.

Since it launched in 2019, Liquid Death has grown from just $3m in revenue to an estimated $130m in 2022. In October, the company was valued at $700m following a Series D funding round.

The brand’s advertising philosophy has been shaped by its CEO, Mike Cessario, who previously worked as a creative director at various agencies across the US. His view is that Liquid Death will win more followers and fans by putting out content that entertains, and he’s not overly worried about making ads that please everyone.

This year alone the brand has had more creative highlights than most brands manage in a decade. It has created a Super Bowl ad which made light of its ambiguous packaging by showing young kids acting wild at a party while swigging from cans of Liquid Death. It hired adult-film star Cherie DeVille to front an ad about Liquid Death’s environmental credentials (because it comes in a can, not a plastic bottle). It made a spot with Wiz Khalifa in which the rapper fills his bong with Liquid Death, and another campaign with overweight stand-up comedian Bert Kreischer performing a satirical 80’s-style workout video.

Perhaps the most surprising celebrity partnership was for Halloween, where Liquid Death worked with TV personality and former jailbird – Martha Stuart – to launch a $58 scented candle called Dismembered Moments, which takes the shape of a life-sized severed hand holding a can of Liquid Death Mountain Water.

It’s hard to think of another brand that demonstrates pure power of good branding like Liquid Death. There is no pretense of product innovation here. Liquid Death’s success is entirely down to great marketing and a knack for coming up with attention-grabbing ideas. That’s why it’s our brand of the year.

To read our in-depth brand spotlight article on Liquid Death, download the 2022 Most Contagious Report for free 

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  • Advice on marketing amid a recession
  • The Contagious view on the trends that will shape the ad industry in the year ahead
  • The Economist’s deputy editor on the big macro-economic trends to watch out for in 2023
  • Summaries of academic research from 2022 that explain how advertising works and consumers behave
  • Much more...

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