SRH | Here we are now, entertain us
Empirical Marketing

Here we are now, entertain us

11 Gettingto Famous Fame P2

Last time we talked about fame campaigns. Now let’s talk about fame.

One of our most important jobs as marketers is to make your brand famous

Once people know who you are and have an emotional connection to your brand, they’re more likely to choose you. And they’re more likely to pay a premium.

So how do we get there? How do we get to fame?

Step 1: Take a look at your category competitors, especially category leaders. What are they saying? What are they doing? What are their category entry points, if any? What do their campaigns look like? What distinctive brand assets are they using? Map it all out.

Step 2: Go in a completely different direction.

Here’s one of our favorite challenger brands: Liquid Death

11 Gettingto Famous Fame P2 Liquid Death 1

Liquid Death wasn’t developed by a giant like Coca-Cola or AB InBev. It is a “challenger brand” in every sense of the phrase.

Former art director Mike Cessario started Liquid Death because he noticed that people who didn’t drink alcohol still wanted to blend in at bars, concerts, festivals and parties.

He also wanted to do the kind of marketing and creative he couldn’t do at his agency job. So he leaned into his punk and skateboarding roots and designed something he thought his friends would think was awesome.

It helped that he was playing in a category ripe for disruption.

As a category, bottled water is fairly (mind-bogglingly) dull. There’s almost no meaningful differentiation and barely any distinctiveness.

Almost every brand of bottled water comes in the same kind of clear plastic container with roughly the same brand colors, imagery and promises.

11 Gettingto Famous Fame P2 Fiji

Liquid Death did the opposite of what every other brand in the category (and most other categories) was doing … including the name, the logo, the aluminum tallboy can and the taglines — “Death to plastic. Murder your thirst.”

11 Gettingto Famous Fame P2 Liquid Death 2

Cessario did all the branding himself. He started a Facebook page and created a wildly irreverent video, which got people talking and sharing and earned the company thousands of followers even before he had a product to sell.

Eventually he started selling Liquid Death on Amazon, in bars, clubs and at music festivals across the US.

Because they had almost no marketing budget at the beginning, Liquid Death relied heavily on fame tactics.

One of our favorites involved a limited run of skateboard decks and Tony Hawk’s blood.

11 Gettingto Famous Fame P2 T Hawk

According to Rolling Stone, “The limited-edition collaboration … features a macabre rendition of the brand’s ‘Thirst Executioner’ character set against a blood-red background. The color was created by taking a vial of Hawk’s actual blood and mixing it with red paint. A rep for the brand says the process “ensures there’s a piece of Tony’s DNA in every board.”

Deeply weird and decidedly on-brand, this “stunt” also got people talking and sharing. Proceeds went to charity, but Liquid Death got a ton of social engagement and earned media.

Today, Liquid Death is close to everywhere. They’re not as famous as, say, Dasani or Evian, but your parents probably know what Liquid Death is. Your kids definitely do.

So how’d they get there?

Liquid Death is brilliantly different and wildly entertaining, which gets people talking, sharing and buying.

Liquid Death has created an emotional connection with their audience … as much as a beverage brand can have.

Liquid Death has made itself iconic and memorable through unignorable fame tactics. Time will tell if they become enduring.

We’ve also yet to see how Liquid Death will evolve and grow as a brand. We obviously don't know if they'll ever unseat category leaders. Right now our guess is they’re probably quite happy as a billion-dollar challenger brand.

We realize blood skateboards might not be part of your marketing plans next year. We will not pitch them to you.

But if you see yourself as a challenger brand, your goal should be to grab as much attention as possible from as many people as possible as frequently as possible … with the budget you have.

In other words, entertain the hell out of your audience over and over again in a way that makes sense for your brand.

What game can you play that your competitors can’t? We can help you answer that.

And if you’d like to chat, we still have a few Armless Palmers left. Liquid Death had to rename it or face the legal wrath of the estate of Arnold Palmer. So now it’s called Dead Billionaire.

We’ll see you next time.


  1. Fame never fails. We love to talk about entertaining brands” – Rory Natkiel at The Drum

  2. Liquid Death – Wikipedia

  3. “How Liquid Death founder, Mike Cessario, created a billion dollar water brand” – Uncensored CMO, ep 125

  4. Tony Hawk Infused His Actual Blood Into This Skateboard Collab,” Rolling Stone