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How this wearable tech startup scored a starring role in Joe Rogan’s Sober October challenge

Fans can follow how no booze affects the sleep, exercise, and recovery time of comedians and podcasters Rogan, Tom Segura, Bert Kreischer, and Ari Shaffir.

How this wearable tech startup scored a starring role in Joe Rogan’s Sober October challenge
[Photo: courtesy of Whoop]

What better way to start Sober October than to talk about your buddy dosing you with MDMA?

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That was the one of the opening anecdotes on Joe Rogan’s annual Sober October podcast this week, serving as an announcement that for the third year in a row, the host and his comic pals would be living clean this month.

The story, as told by Bert Kreischer, involved his friend Ari Shaffir spiking his drink. Like all great Kreischer tales, it’s long, detailed, hilarious, and definitely not something any timid brand would want to be associated with.

Yet as Sober October evolves into an annual event and excuse for the four comedian friends to interact and compete and bust each other’s chops, it is now an ideal platform for the brave brand that can credibly join the conversation between the performers and their ardent fans.

This year, all four comics are wearing a Whoop strap, and using the wearable tech company’s platform to track their progress through Sober October while inviting fans to follow along online.

Rogan opened the podcast by telling listeners about Whoop, and how it’s not just for pro athletes but “even losers like us” to improve their recovery, training, sleep, and make better lifestyle choices. “This month, I’ll be wearing my Whoop 24/7 to understand the impact of sobriety has on my body. LOL,” said Rogan. “I’m a big fan of this company. I’m a big fan of the kind of analytics that this Whoop strap provides you.”

All told, it was a two-minute ad on one of the world’s most popular podcasts, plus Whoop was worked into the conversation throughout the almost three-hour episode.

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Whoop CEO Will Ahmed says partnering with Rogan is a perfect fit for his brand. “We’ve been a big fan of Joe Rogan’s for a while now. I think he speaks to biohacking and human performance in a lot of different contexts, and our mission at Whoop is to unlock human performance,” he says.

Founded in 2011, Whoop has been popular among pro and elite athletes, as well as hardcore health nuts for awhile now, but Ahmed says Whoop wants to show everyone the benefits of better understanding your body. Losers and all. He hopes that aligning Whoop with some of the most popular comics in the country is a perfect way to do that. “Joe Rogan and his friends have mass-market appeal, and a really wide listener base,” says Ahmed. [Rogan has one of the most popular podcasts and YouTube shows of any stripe, while Kreischer’s Bertcast, Ari Shaffir’s Skeptic Tank, and Segura’s Your Mom’s House are also chart-topping comedy podcasts.] “For Whoop, we’ve been generally focused on certain markets that are maybe a bit more health and fitness focused. We see this as an opportunity to expand our reach and have more people aware of the brand. Ultimately, we’ve built technology that can really help anyone motivated to improve.”

[Photo: courtesy of Whoop]
Sober October, a tradition that reportedly got started about a decade ago in Australia, has gained popularity as the new Dry January. Ahmed says it ties directly into the brand’s mission, because so much of our body’s strength is derived from how well we sleep. “Alcohol has a huge effect on your quality of sleep,” he says. “You get way less slow-wave and REM sleep than you normally would. REM sleep is when your mind is repairing, and slow-wave sleep is when your body produces 95% of its human growth hormone. So this idea that you get stronger in the gym is false. You get get stronger when your body’s repairing your muscles.”

On the podcast, Rogan, Segura, Kreischer, and Shaffir spent a lot of time sorting out the ground rules for their own month-long quest for improvement. Just to be clear, no Molly, no Adderall, and no booze.

Cigars are okay, though.

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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