Smartwater buys ad next to Liquid Death's eBay Superbowl auction of "the worlds biggest ad"

Remember when Liquid Death asked: Why spend 7 million on a super bowl ad when you can advertise on liquid death packaging?

Liquid Deaath began PR-ing the heck out of that eBay stunt that Adland wrote about on February 8. Liquid Death's old-school eBay stunt got a lot of immediate attention in marketing circles, as the brand is taking over the throne where Oatly used to be, the brand every marketeer follows because they are inspiring, rule-breaking, and fun.

Hoping to get in on some of that glory, Smartwater decided to dust off that old "don't outspend your competition, outsmart them" and with the help of targeted online media tools, placed an ad right next to Liquid Death's eBay auction. Ha! Smart.

Smartwater advertises next to Liquid Death auction

I'll give Smartwater props for leaning into the "smart" thing by buying this space right here. That is clever, and props to whomever on the team who made that happen. You understood the assignment.

as for the creative, someone wasn't brave enough to approve something smarter.

"Enough with the death talk" - Crack open something smart.

Now, before I continue - I know this is irrelevant to my review, but just so y'all know - I am a big fan and frequent buyer of both of these brands. For different reasons.So this has nothing to do with the quality of either water.

Liquid death cans were a simple idea that responded to the insight that everyone worries about plastic in the target market country where cans are seemingly recycled without trouble, but plastics not so much.

I know that only 5% to 6% of plastics actually gets recycled in the United States, I have no idea about cans. But among consumers who don't deep dive into statistics either way, the attitude against using plastics has created a market for all kinds of reusable bottles, so that the eco-conscious could bring their water with them on a hike, without being spotted holding a dreaded plastic bottle. "Won't you think of the oceans!?"

Targeting the younger "need water" crowd, Liquid Death rolled out cans with a rock'n'roll attitude and over-the-top art direction. Soon the can was spotted at Venice skate park, the epicenter of people in LA who need water, but are also from the hate-plastic generation.

When I got the Liquid Death cans to give out, some kids there asked me if I was handing my kid a beer, which I am sure had a hand in making this canned water ubiquitous in every little shop around the boardwalk eventually. Which then continued to spread the "badass no plastic message" as thirsty boardwalk people would choose to buy the cool can over the boring Pepsi plastic bottles available in the shops there, where everything is marked up 900%. 

Smartwater's strategy which launched earlier focussed on both expanding the water-drinking market and on drinking smarter water. They had PepsiCo "Aquafina" as their main competitor as their brand grew up. Instead of just attacking that brand with "they are only tapwater, for real", they pushed the need for active, hardworking, thinking people to drink water, and that it had to be better water. It couldn't be just any old tapwater, it needed to be pure and with smart stuff. This was the correct strategy at the time, and it is largely thanks to Smartwater that there is such a big water market today.

So, I find it funny that Smartwater is acknowledging the "next generation" of water branding, and I find it kind of sweet.  These two brands will have no problem carving - and expanding - both areas that they and their target markets are in.

In fact, I thought this was a friendly ad-war (remember those?) arranged between the two brands until I saw some linkedin comments.

"Targeting a direct competitor (with a much more die-hard fanbase) on their listing page downplaying their branding that is pushing for environmentally friendly packaging (death to plastic) is not the move. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Smart Water may have sniffed the plate as it passed by, but Liquid Death ATE 🍽️ #DeathToPlastic #LiquidDeath"


"Yeah, advertising on a competitors stunt listing with a cheeky display post is not the flex you think it is 🤣"

"Hummmm… I think Liquid Death won this one 😂"


Oh well, as they say, you can't win them all.

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