The secret to outrageous marketing

16 May 2023

Secret Sauce
You need more than just a bright neon sign and a couple of flyers if you want a steady stream of clientele to your festival, event or bar. The name of the game? Creative custom campaigns underpinned by wily strategies that pierce through to your target audience. And the most outrageous and outlandish ideas often come out on top – as these industry insiders and experts reveal.
Remember, consistency is key

Dan Monheit is the co-founder of Australian creative agency Hardhat and a behavioural economics guru, so he knows first-hand the importance of marketing. 
Often overlooked, Monheit believes the biggest mistake brands make is overestimating the impact of any one thing and underestimating the impact of small actions consistently over time. 
"We have this idea we're going to do one event, one ad campaign, write one article, click at one conference, put on one great party, and that's going to be the thing that changes the trajectory. And maybe that happens one in a billion times." 
But most of the time, success is built by time and consistency, whether it's a high-end restaurant with top-nosh vibes, a club spinning magic or a brand's publicity campaign. "We pay a premium for consistency. We like certainty in our lives. And it's certainly the most important thing in marketing," he says. 

Rip up the playbook

There is scarcely a brand that embodies standing out and breaking all(!) the rules quite like Liquid Death. Launched in Los Angeles in 2019 with the tagline 'Murder Your Thirst', Liquid Death began selling what is essentially water-in-a-can, at "select bars, barbers, strip clubs, tattoo shops".
Weird name and tagline for a water brand? Sure. But nothing out of the ordinary other than that, it would seem. Then you actually see the can in question. 
"Before, water bands went with muted tones and soft colours like it was from some exotic spring or glacier somewhere. It was like a purity contest," says Dan Moheit. "And then Liquid Death comes with a punk-inspired tallboy can, two fingers up at everything and cues from energy drinks and heavy metal that just stood out in a way you could not fathom."
Has it worked? Yes, very much so. After just four years, the brand is valued at $700 million dollars, and amassed over 1.5 million Instagram followers.
"This is about making health and sustainability fun, this is about leveraging creativity to be culturally relevant," proclaims a recent LinkedIn post by Pernod Ricard's venture arm, which was quick to back the brand. 

Know your audience

The genius, here, isn't just that Liquid Death is marketing water in a way that has never been done before. "They looked at an audience of young men who really hadn't been targeted by this category before, and they said, well, which category is already targeting this group really well?" said Monheit. "It is so considered. Everything they do is different but consistent. The tone, the energy, and the feeling of it." 
One of their most crazy advertising stunts has been the sale of limited-edition skateboards injected with investor Tony Hawk's actual blood. This sanguine approach (among other Liquid Death stunts) goes to show that the Von Restorff effect - aka the bizarreness effect - can still be a strong advertising move for a brand looking to shake up their industry.

Avoid going on a social media overload

The common mistake is to try too many platforms at once, says Tom Harvey, co-founder of the London and Los Angeles-based drinks marketing agency YesMore. The thing is, he says, social media has diversified. With so many to choose from, resources are spread out and social content often feels flat and replicated cross each channel. "Find a creative niche, whether that is TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest or Youtube...and just do it really bloody well!"
After all, social media should be treated as the most sociable marketing channel. "The advice I'd give to bars is to be personable. Be transparent, be open. Share everything. Bring it to life and engage people though that."

Keep that slogan simple

In London, the Dutch DJ and club promoter Ruby Savage showed just how effective a direct slogan can be with her anti-harassment campaign, 'Don't be a creep'.
Starting out with slogan tees sold to those who were also fed-up with women being harassed on dance floors, they were so popular that clothes brand Supreme even took on a batch to sell in their store. If it passes the 'would you wear it on a t-shirt?' test, you're onto a winner.
The campaign has since expanded. "We (now) work with venues, festivals and promoters, and then we find a strong slogan and make posters or a social media campaign to get the message across that we do not welcome creeps," Savage said. It's not always simple, though, "A lot of people want to make change," she added, "but budget is always a bit of an issue in trying to get things off the ground."

Secret Sauce - Distilled

For the last word, raise your glass to Dan Monheit with this timely reminder:
"One of the narratives in the marketing-advertising industry is forever saying to be brave. To differentiate or die. And I think we massively overestimate how important our brands are in the lives of our consumers. As a result, we massively overestimate how risky or brave we are being."
The point Monheit is making here is: have some (not necessarily Dutch) courage.

Please enjoy our brands responsibly. Do not share this website with anyone under legal drinking age.

Welcome to SIP

Log in to enjoy full access to the SIP platform:

Welcome to SIP

SIP platform is dedicated to the hospitality professionals and is available in multiple countries. Please note the content deployed on SIP is adapted to the selected country. Please select your country:

Forgot your password?

Enter the email address associated with your account and we will email you a link to reset password.

Check your email

If we recognize your account, a link to reset your password has been sent to your email address. If you haven’t received it, please check in your spam folder and add to whitelist.

Create an account

Please provide your details to register.

You must be of legal drinking age to join.
Birthdates are not shared with others.
Your password must include at least one symbol and number and have at least 8 characters.

Check your email

A link to activate your account has been sent to your email address. If you haven’t received it, please check your spam folder and add it to whitelist.