Heavy Metal and Grannies – takeaways from a commercial for Iced Tea!

Published: March 02, 2023

min read

Liquid Death has launched a line of iced teas, in its own unique iconic way. Directed by Jeff Tremaine of the “Jackass” fame, the raucous and slightly unhinged 80-second commercial features men dressed as grandmothers doing the wildest things – they play heavy-metal music, shoot rockets out of their butts and (brace for it) even spray poop on a hater from a hose connected to a portable toilet! They do everything they possibly can to let you know that this is certainly not your grandma’s energy drink!

The whole spot is built on the underlying concept that while tea is a grandma’s energy drink, it could be promoted using the metaphors and tropes of all extreme energy drinks.

The hard-driving musical track is an original from Liquid Death’s Greatest Hates Vol. 1, a heavy metal album that they made in 2020, where the lyrics of each track are all from hate mail that was sent to the brand. The song is called “Go Out Of Business.”

All the characters in the spot are either employees of Liquid Death or friends of the brand - Mike Cessario, the brand’s Founder and CEO, and Greg Fass, the VP of Marketing, to name a couple of them.

Liquid Death is known for its canned water – and its famous tag line “murder your thirst.” They then went about adding sparkling water to their list of offerings.

And now - iced teas!

The flavors are called Grim Leafer (a traditional black Earl Grey style tea flavored with bergamot orange), Armless Palmer (black tea and lemonade) and Rest in Peach (black tea flavored with peach, pear and apricot).

These iced teas, they hope will take on their customers’ thirst as well as be good for their health. It is tea, and it is sweetened with agave. They are positioned as being low in calories, low in sugar and which have a micro-dose of caffeine along with B vitamins.

Incidentally, they are a brand focused on sustainability and the environment – no plastic at all. They use aluminum cans.

What are the takeaways from this?

Breaking away from feel-good, soft and gentle, conventional mode of advertising is not a bad thing. Being ‘extremely’ different is not necessarily a bad thing – heavy metal, biker mania, extreme sports, BMX, etc. have their niche, and a following. And without sounding patronizing, very often one finds that their hearts are in the right place.

Imagine turning something as tame as iced teas, the drink of pastel grannies into a heavy metal-laced sequence of extreme sports! But it works! Including the last frame with a fancy teapot (that is crushed of course) and classical music!

The extreme contrasts are a genius trick – take for instance, their homepage - there is the can with the extreme heavy metal kind of design on it and a little girl drinking out of it – their first and signature offering – pure water!

The entire commercial is a nod to nostalgia and Monty Python’s Hell’s Grannies sketch. And everyone who was a fan of that sketch (and Jackass) can totally relate to this spot and the heavy metal grannies. The slightly older generation certainly will. And today’s heavy metal fans will too!

Throw in the product – iced tea – the quintessential energy drink (the little caffeine in the tea) – which is something that even your grandma would approve of! And you have a masterpiece!

So, what if some people don’t like what they do and send them hate mail? They just make those hate emails the lyrics of their heavy metal tracks and release an album. No wait – they’ve released two albums!

Liquid Death is, by the way, supposed to be one of the top water brands (even among beverage brands) on Instagram and TikTok! And it is not surprising at all – they are constantly doing something crazy or bizarre that has everyone talking about them. Remember the drummer granny?

As their VP of Creative, Andy Pearson told Muse, “We like taking a stance that other brands would never touch."

Within hours of releasing this iced tea commercial, the YouTube video of this spot had over 27, 000 views with comments like “now THIS is how you sell iced tea” and “I am SO going to buy this” and “hell f*$#@g yeah!”

Sounds to me like they are doing things right!


Grace Wang

Grace is an advertising professional who keeps abreast of the latest and greatest in the marketing and advertising space. She is a traditionalist in lifestyle and modernist in her profession. Outside of marketing and advertising, she helps younger generation try and adapt traditional lifestyle for a healthy living.


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