Announcement/News

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Mike Cessario, founder / CEO of Liquid Death THE THIRST KILLING MOUNTAIN WATER IN A CAN

Tell us a little about your punk rock/heavy metal experience playing in bands.

I grew up in the punk/hardcore/metal scence outside Philadelphia in the late 90’s. Went to see bands like Dillinger Escape Plan, Converge, Lamb of God (when they were Burn the Priest), Snapcase, Lifetime, Boysetsfire, Propagandhi, NOFX, Botch, and tons more. I played guitar in a few different bands from punk to hardcore to metal, but none of which actually toured or did anything special. But playing in bands is where I got my start of being a creative entrepreneur. 

Why would you say it is that the initial market of metal/punk fans would get your brand of humor?

There’s an incorrect assumption out there that the health and wellness demographic is not interested in weird, tongue-in-cheek entertainment. In an industry that normally uses “aspirational” fitness models and airbrushed celebrities, we’re using our brand to support weirdos and entertainment that generally get ignored by traditional wellness brands. People would be surprised that there’s a huge portion of the alternative/punk/metal culture that actually cares about health and the environment, and that tends to be who instantly connects with our brand mission and humor. 

Your “sell your soul” to Liquid Death campaign is irreverent, genius, and hilarious.  Where did the idea spawn from and how has the response been?

At the end of the day, every brand has to use marketing. You need people to sign up for your newsletter, or join your membership club, or be a bigger part of your brand. We just always look for funnier ways to do it. Most marketing and advertising is toxic waste because it is created in boardrooms and takes itself way too seriously. We try to be very clear that we do not take ourselves seriously. Our goal is actually entertain people and be one of the cool fun things they interact with that day. We often start our ideation with “What would be the dumbest thing we could do for this?” And that is essentially where Sell Your Soul came from. What is a soul really? It’s fun to think about and play around with. We now have almost 40,000 people who have sold their souls to Liquid Death.

How did you snag Pittsburgh boy Joe Manganiello to sell his soul?

Joe is actually one of our favorite humans on the planet. He is a long-time lover of heavy metal and Dungeons and Dragons. He was thrilled when he discovered Liquid Death and loves our sarcastic, rock’n’roll approach to wellness and sustainability. We couldn’t have asked for a better brand ambassador, and we’re looking forward to continuing to work together. 

What other artists are you developing relationships with?

We’ve been getting social media love from all kinds of artists from metal to EDM to hip hop. Artists like Gojira, High on Fire, Gwar, Gatecreeper, Red City Radio, Rob Zombie, Dirtyphonics, Best Coast, 6Black, Nuclear Blast Records, Relapse Records, and more. 

Speaking of art…who is responsible for the design of the can?

One of our early partners in the brand is Will Carsola, the co-creator of the Adult Swim cartoon “Mr Pickles”. Will is our main creative partner in the Liquid Death and he created a lot of our brand assets like the skull on the can (and the funny copy on the side) and our recent animated commercial. I was a huge fan of the show, and I actually just DMed him on Instagram, told him I’m a big fan and have a project in the works that I thought he’d be interested. Luckily, he actually responded and dug the concept for the brand. He’s been amazing to work with and we have so much other fun Liquid Death stuff in the works for the future. 

Is your company pursuing getting involved with concert venues to sell Liquid Death?

We’ve partnered with a few music festivals and events so far, and it’s something we’ll definitely keep doing. Our next appearance will be at FEST in Gainesville, FL early Nov and Adult Swim Festival in Los Angeles in mid-November. 

Do you envision that in the near future we will stop using plastic for water packaging?

I think that’s the direction we’re headed. Since we launched in May, our presence and #DeathtoPlastic campaign has put increased pressure on the water bottle industry to think more sustainably about its packaging. In just a few short months, we’ve already seen our work lead to big brands like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola announce the plan to put some of their existing water brands in cans. 

Your company is obviously environmentally conscious.  Besides infinite recycling and the money donated, how else are you active regarding the environment?

We’re proud to work closely with the Thirst Project and 5 Gyres, donating $0.05 from every can sold to helping people access safe drinking water in communities around the world where it’s not immediately available, and cleaning up plastic garbage out of the ocean. We’re continuing to look for new ways that we can do our part in helping the environment. 

To what do you attribute your success at finding investors and becoming such a fast growing incubated company?

Having a 10 year career in advertising definitely helped hone my skills of how to sell “crazy” creative ideas in boardrooms to business people who are not creative. But the biggest thing I’ve learned as an entreprenuer, is you have to care more about what you’re building than anyone else. You have to have insane passion for your idea/product in order to be better at building it than everyone competing against you. Liquid Death was essentially the perfect combo of my passion for alternative culture, music, art, comedy, and health, along with my passion and experience for pushing the boundaries of marketing and advertising to make it suck less. And I spent so much time dialing everything in. Investors, VCs, and incubators will always respond to well to passion and people with very clear visions for what they want to build. 

Has there been any discussion about diversifying the product into other products or beverages?

We do have a Liquid Death merch store on our site, but right now our main focus is still getting Liquid Death in more retail locations across the country. We’ve only scratched the surface with our water and we’ll keep growing it more before we start thinking about other versions. 

Can you tell us some of the biggest musical influences in your life?

So many to list, but how about I list some of the most influential albums of my life?

Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss

Lamb of God – Ashes of the Wake

NOFX – White Trash, Two Heebs, and Bean

Propagandhi – How to Clean Everything

Bad Religion – Suffer

Screeching Weasel – Boogada

Boysetsfire – The Day the Sun Went Out

Jay Z – Reasonable Doubt

Eminem – The Eminem Show

Jimmy Eat World – Clarity

Beach Boys – Pet Sounds

Sturgil Simpson – Metamodern Sounds of Country Music

Any current bands that you are really into right now?

Gatecreeper, Power Trip, Sturgil Simpson, Dave Hause, Baroness, Teenage Bottlerocket, Gojira, Miguel

How often do you perceive you will have events or offer new merch for “Country Club” members?

Not sure. We like to keep things special, which means not trying to do too much. 

How would you explain what a creative is and how did you get into it?

A creative is really just someone who enjoys finding unique ways to solve problems. Writing a song is essentially a problem you have to figure out. Or building a brand or writing a film or making a piece of art. The most important part is enjoying the very long creative process of solving whatever thing it is you are trying to crack. That is 99% of being creative. The shiny end result is maybe 1%. I eventually found the kinds of problems that I was best at creatively solving, which was design and branding and marketing. I sucked at figuring out how to write hit songs. 

CHECK OUT LIQUID DEATH HERE AND MURDER YOUR THIRST AND MAYBE EVEN SELL YOUR SOUL…

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