Mike Cessario has taken his licks. When Liquid Death initially launched its product, there were many skeptical reviews. One New Yorker food writer, Helen Rosner, said the bottled water was so insulting and shameful that she barely had anything positive to say about it.
That was two years ago, and Mike Cessario, the CEO of Liquid Death, has used the insults hurled at him to lay a foundation. He went as far as making an album based on such criticism. The CEO is now expanding the brand to include a flavored sparkling line thanks to $75 million additional funding.
Let’s tell you more about Mike Cessario.
1. His Creative Entrepreneurship Started in a Band
Cessario told Pittsburg Music Magazine that the major reason for choosing a career in creative entrepreneurship was because he grew up in the hardcore/punk/metal music scene. With hardcore bands having extremely graphic designs for their album covers, it made sense for Cessario to have a dripping human skull illustration on the can of water.
2. Why Mike Cessario Chose to Venture in Water
Of all the products he could have explored, the entrepreneur selected water. Cessario grew up as a vegetarian and energy drinks were not an option. He wanted to venture into a healthy product, and it struck him that young people barely drink enough water.
According to Cessario, the only reason the youth prefer energy drinks to water is marketing. The packaging of energy drinks is much more appealing, and so are the adverts, which is why the CEO of Liquid Death decided to revamp the marketing scene with a catchy slogan.
3. He Picked Will Carsola to Be the Creative Partner of Liquid Death
Cessario loved watching “Mr. Pickles,” an American adult animated sitcom that Dave Stewart and Will Carsola co-created for Adult Swim. Therefore, when the time came for Cessario to design the Liquid Death can, he remembered the creativity he saw on the show and messaged Carsola on Instagram.
Fortunately, for the entrepreneur, Carsola responded positively and began working on the concept of the brand. Consequently, he came up with the human skull on the can and the company’s animated commercial that urges kids to “murder their thirst.”
4. He Roots for a Green Environment
In an interview with Voyagela, Cessario explained that after launching in 2019, his company committed to donating $0.05 from every can sold to cleaning plastic garbage in the ocean. By 2010, the global plastic water bottles figure was 275 million, which grew to 300 million in 2015.
Therefore, besides ensuring that the oceans are not polluted with plastic water bottles, Cessario decided to use recycled material to make his tallboy water cans. In 2021, Liquid Death launched the “Loving Homes for Plastic” initiative in which the company offered pre-paid postage stickers for online purchases for customers to return empty single-use bottles to soft drink companies.
5. The Person Who Inspires Him
Cessario revealed that he loves how Michael Dubin, Dollar Shave Club’s founder, grew his business and how Yvon Chouinard is committed to creating a brand loved by the public.
However, the person that has a major impact on the CEO is Travis Scott. The musician has a strong brand that appeals to shoe lovers through Nike and fast food lovers through McDonald’s Travis Scott meal. Cessario, therefore, said he hoped that Liquid Death expanded to be like the Travis Scott brand.
6. He Considers Himself a Creative
According to the CEO, a creative is anyone who finds unique ways to solve problems. Cessario reasoned that the person has to enjoy the long creative process that makes up 99% of being creative since 1% is the result.
He said that although he played the guitar and wanted to write hit songs, songwriting was not his calling, but found out he was good at designing and marketing. Still, the love for hardcore music resulted in Liquid Death releasing a vinyl record, “The Greatest Hates.” The entrepreneur told The Hustle that it is a marketing play based on negative reviews and comments the brand received.
7. He is Strategic
We are always advised to look before we leap, and that is what Cessario did when he wanted to launch Liquid Death. He was unsure how the public would react to the product, so he played it safe. At first, his team shot a video that cost $1,500, and they sank $600 in paid advertising.
They preferred social media as the ideal platform to test reactions and were surprised when they started receiving messages from distributors who wanted to sell the product.
8. He Had to Look for a Bottling Company Outside North America
Probably when Cessario started getting messages from distributors, he thought it would be easy to supply. Unfortunately, he realized it would be challenging. Cessario was determined to sell non-carbonated water, little did he know that it was not easy to do so without preservatives.
After searching in North America for a company to help with his quest, the CEO finally found one in Austria.
9. Why Selling Directly to Consumers is Not a Viable Option
Cessario would love to do away with wholesalers and retailers, but eliminating them is not a viable option. He explained that the main reason bottled water exists is the convenience, and for him to do away with middlemen, he would have to sell on the internet. Besides no one being interested in ordering water online, it would be very expensive when the shipping costs are factored in since there is no such thing as free shipping.
10. His Selling Point for Liquid Death
Getting people to drink water is hard, but Cessario believes the artwork on the cans helps consumers to drink water at a party. After all, the skull and aluminum cans would have people believing that you are gulping a beer.
Most of all, it is a product that environmentally-conscious people would go for since it is made from recycled materials.
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Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee