It’s OK to love the advertising and hate the product

—No matter how good the new advertising is, Craig Redmond won’t be buying Liquid Death anytime soon—

It’s pretty messed up—especially for a guy who has defended the importance and effectiveness of advertising for his entire career, and with every shred of DNA in his body.

But here’s the funny truth:  Some of my favourite work has been for products, services and even categories I’ve never even once considered trying. It’s kind of like always dreaming about what you’ll do when you win the lottery, but never actually buying a ticket.

I wouldn’t know a PlayStation from a Switch, for instance, but I could watch gaming ads for weeks. Every year, when everyone else is eagerly awaiting the new Call of Duty release, this ad geek is just itching to see its latest marketing. Check out this year’s campaign, if you haven’t already. The typically serious hero spot is accompanied this year by some pretty funny companion spoofs featuring Pete Davidson, Trae Young and Steve Aoiki.

But as usual, I digress.

When I first heard about the brand Liquid Death, I immediately relegated it to that rash of energy drinks that spread like a bad case of crabs in the early 2000s. The name, packaging, and early marketing all screamed juvenile jolted skater kids, hopped up on caffeine-laced, sugar-water rocket fuel, and it was just another fledgling contender vying for a juicy buyout from Coke or Pepsi. But how wrong I was.

Seeing the ad below nearly three years ago literally forced me to revisit the brand and find out what the hell this so-called “Mountain Water” was all about.

And what I discovered, hidden underneath all that thrash metal, anti-establishment, hormone raging, teenage angst, was an angelic soul of a brand actually trying to save the next generation from the scourge of those energy drinks, and help save the world from our polyethylene-pounding selves.

It is, in fact, mountain spring water, so it will indeed “murder your thirst.” And because it is sold in cans instead of plastic bottles, Liquid Death is certainly helping planet earth.

Meanwhile, its other iconoclastic claim is that it “hates corporate marketing just as much as you do…” And so, they do all their anti-marketing entirely in-house. But, not-so-ironically, it’s that very antithetical advertising approach that has made the brand so wildly popular in the marketplace. They even made their first appearance on the Super Bowl last year, albeit lampooning all the usual beverage advertising you’d expect to see during the big game.

This latest effort, however, takes dead centre, sacrilegious aim at the pantheon of beverage advertising—the sacred, blind taste test. Hell, us Canadians practically grew up on the Pepsi Challenge—standing in line at the CNE and PNE, waiting to prove our palate prowess, or just to get a free drink of pop.

But in its typically lethal, seditious style, Liquid Death sabotages the tried-and-true marketing praxis by pitting its inexpensive new flavoured water against some disgustingly exorbitant and disgustingly disgusting sparkling water concoctions.

Proving empirically that their sparkling water tastes better than a tallboy of sparkling squid ink makes for some pretty memorable advertising that I can’t help but love. But I still doubt I’ll ever buy a can of this stuff.

And it’s nothing against the brand. Like I said at the outset, I love a lot of work for things I never consume. But just like that lottery ticket I won’t buy, a boy can still dream about what it would be like to experience a Liquid Death.

Craig Redmond