Fast Company

Inside a Gamer Geek's Quest to Infect Masses With Zombie Blood

Harcos Labs products

Alienware Area-51 tower? Check. Triple high-def flat-screen monitors? Check. Wireless dual-action game controller? Check. Left 4 Dead? Check. Zombie Blood?

Check.

Harcos Labs, the creators of a slew of gaming-inspired drinks like Mana Potion and Nuclear Powder, did not come up with a monstrous green goo beverage to market a movie or a new line of high def TVs, as we speculated earlier. They are tapping into the thirsty nerd market with a new style of energy drinks. Zombie Blood hopes to crack open a whole new niche in the gaming and film industry through marketing themed energy drink products that might eventually end up in the games and movies that inspired them.

"We had concepts for zombie blood--a lot of people were requesting it," says Aaron Rasmussen, Harcos cofounder and VP of marketing. "We're placing our bets on zombies being the next popular thing after vampires."

Since the Twilight Saga spawned a craze of vampire-obsessed teens (see True Blood and its gimmicky Tru Blood drink, Moonlight, Blood Ties, the Vampire Diaries, etc.), Rasmussen might be onto something here once the bloodsucker fad fades. George Romero has a few flicks slated for this year and next; popular games like Left 4 Dead and Resident Evil 5 have revived the zombie genre; and horror-converted-classics like Pride & Prejudice and Zombies are changing the book industry and becoming unexpected best-sellers.

And Harcos has already tied their products into these industries. Recently, their drinks were used to promote Korean MMOG Aion and action-RPG Elunium, which featured a virtual version of Harcos's drinks in the game itself. Earlier this year, Harcos partnered with Lionsgate to help promote Ethan Hawke's horror-flick Daybreakers. And Rasmussen says more opportunities are on the way. "I can't say too much, but we have a lot of cool deals in the works," he says, promising Harcos will find more niche markets to tap and expand distribution. When asked whether he might partner with director George Romero for his upcoming projects, Rasmussen would only hint. "I can only say...it's something like that."

So what's it like to work at Harcos Labs?

"Sometimes we're just concepting and coming up with disturbing or cool things--but not everyday is rainbows and unicorns--sometimes it's a little bit of a grind," says Rasmussen, who originally came up with the idea with his business partner while playing Final Fantasy.

"Recently we came out with blood energy potion, which is a synthetic blood drink in an IV bag--3.4 ounces, about the same caffeine as a Red Bull," he explains. "We broke down the nutritional content of real blood and put something very similar into it, using protein, iron, and electrolytes--and it still even grosses me out sometimes...I'm actually drinking one right now."

So early in the day?

"I didn't have my morning coffee," Rasmussen says, "and as you might expect, we have a lot of blood in the office."

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