Whether you consider Liquid Death a stunt marketer, shock marketer or anti-marketer, the self-described “funny beverage company who hates corporate marketing as much as you do” is marketing driven, which is not surprising given its primary product is canned water.
And with many of its recent campaigns venturing into sports and entertainment—through partnerships with athletes and musicians—it’s not a stretch to think that sponsorships with events, organizations, teams or other properties could be next on the horizon for the six-year-old brand.
Liquid Death first ventured into the space in late 2021 through a promotional partnership with Tony Hawk that offered limited-edition, $500 signature skateboards decorated with paint that had been infused with the legendary skater’s blood. Ten percent of the proceeds were donated to anti-plastic nonprofit 5 Gyres and Hawk’s The Skatepark Project.
Next came the appearance of company investor and rap artist Wiz Khalifa in a 30-second digital ad spot proclaiming the brand as “the finest bong water on earth.”
Last summer, Liquid Death entered the pro and college sports realm by staging a combine for NFL and collegiate “hydration assistants” that in addition to reminding us not to call them waterboys, selected a winner—Travis Paulson of the Indianapolis Colts—to receive a $100,000 endorsement deal and his own ad.
Discussing the promotion upon its launch, Liquid Death Mountain Water’s vice president of creative Andy Pearson said, “Entering the sports arena, we wanted to bring people something they’d never seen before,” said. “Using athletes has been done a million times.”
Make that a million and one, as Liquid Death itself released a campaign in late March featuring Jalen Green as the company’s “first NBA brand ambassador.” The Houston Rockets guard and new company investor is showcased in a retro-themed horror-comedy commercial playing a pick-up game with a severed head. Alongside the 60-second spot, the company sold a $125 Hoop Head collectible basketball on its website.
Liquid Death’s latest partnership is with Travis Barker, in which the Blink-182 drummer touts a $182 “Enema of the State” enema kit complete with a rubber bulb and a signed can of the beverage to commemorate the band’s 1999 “Enemy of the State” album.
So is an institutional sponsorship next? If Liquid Death does go that route, it could well be with music events, given that Live Nation is an investor in the company. Or perhaps it will look to continue with sports given the fit with its hydration message.
Regardless, the question for any potential partner will be whether it is comfortable with Liquid Death’s snarky, subversive tone and sometimes over-the-top creative ideas. More conservative properties and those with heritage brands may decide that brand fit trumps the potential revenue, while upstart rights holders with edgier images and younger-skewing audiences may see the opportunity to enrich their coffers and burnish their street cred.