A 12-pack of Liquid Death 16.9-ounce tallboys is $21.99 on Amazon.
What’s in the cans festooned with dripping golden skulls and the tagline “murder your thirst”? It’s 100% non-carbonated mountain water sourced and canned in the Alps. No flavoring but with a slightly alkaline pH of 8.2.
It’s the latest venture from former Netflix Creative Director Mike Cessario, a product designed to resonate with “extreme” teetotaling crowds that eschew alcohol and drugs.
On Tuesday, Cessario announced he had raised an additional $1.6 million for his canned-water startup from big names in tech including Dollar Shave Club founder and CEO Michael Dubin, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and Away co-founder Jen Rubio, bringing total funding to $2.25 million.
The announcement follows a growing trend in the U.S. beverage market. Bottled water was the most successful mass market beverage category in 2018, with nearly 14 billion gallons sold.
The playing field has become crowded with buzzwordy options like Bulletproof FATwater (“Sugar-free Ketogenic Brain Octane and B Vitamins”) and LIFEWTR (“Premium Purified Water, pH Balanced with Electrolytes For Taste”).
This “punk” entry is just the latest, and perhaps the ultimate, example of using toxic masculinity to market a product.
Need to get all up in someone’s face about just how much you are completely sober but also kind of thirsty? Do it with a tallboy. Of water. With skulls on it.
Can La Croix Key Lime do that? No. No, it cannot.
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There have been other foods or beverages to adopt a he-man, no-girls-allowed stance. Dr Pepper marketed its diet soda as “not for women,” Burger King’s “I am man” commercials disparaged “chick food.”
There was the Taco Bell “guys love bacon” commercial and Arby’s print ad in the “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit issue using their sandwiches as a stand-in for breasts.
Liquid Death, which runs about 10 cents per ounce (just a little more than big seller Dasani) also makes sustainability claims of a sort (#DeathtoPlastic), asserting that cans contain 20 times more recycled material than plastic bottles.
Aluminum.org makes more modest assertions, saying aluminum cans contain on average 70% recycled content — more than three times the amount in a glass or plastic bottle. Still, conservative estimates say humans have trashed more than a trillion aluminum cans in landfills.
So just how subversive and radical can Liquid Death’s tallboy aluminum cans be?
Cessario aims to offer a water brand that speaks to “straight edge” punks who are completely sober. Again, not a particularly radical position: Much has been made in recent months of millennials’ and Gen Z’s move toward sobriety and rejection of their parents’ lack of moderation.
Still, there are some claims that Liquid Death makes that may only appeal to the men who were in high dudgeon over the Gillette “We Believe” ad.
“Our proprietary Thirst Murdering process begins with Liquid Death forming a rope of veins that will wrap around your Thirst’s head and strangle it,” the website, um, explains. “Once Liquid Death reaches your Thirst’s brain, all of your Thirst’s memories will be replaced with repeating loops of its own head imploding.”
For those not looking to “instantly decapitate your thirst,” perhaps a glass of tap will do, maybe with a little lemon wedge.