The appeal of the celebrity-endorsed product is, at its core, a promise. It may be a superficial and transactional ruse, but the premise is that if the celebrity likes and uses this product, you’re buying a piece of them as well.
Today, that idea is being taken to a whole other level, as water brand Liquid Death releases a limited edition line of signature Tony Hawk skateboards infused with the legendary skater’s actual blood. Yep, Liquid Death took a vial of Hawk’s blood and mixed it with the paint, making sure there’s a piece of Hawk DNA in every one of the 100 boards. It’s either upping the ante on celebrity endorsement, a blatantly thirsty marketing stunt, or both.
Andy Pearson, vice president of creative at Liquid Death, says it wasn’t tough to convince Hawk to do it. “We told him the idea, then he laughed and said he loved it,” says Pearson. “He’s bled enough on a skate ramp before, so it wasn’t a big deal for him at all.”
The boards, created by Prime Skateboards with artwork by Will Carsola (who also made the brand’s can design), are selling on Liquid Death’s site for $500 each, with 10% of the proceeds going to anti-plastic nonprofit 5 Gyres and Hawk’s Skatepark Project.
Founded in 2017, Liquid Death has raised $50 million from investors, quickly skyrocketing beyond its initial joke-y premise of bringing the aesthetic and packaging of heavy metal, beer, and energy drinks to the ever-expanding consumer water market. Hawk was part of the most recent funding round in May, along with Live Nation, Wiz Khalifa, Steve Aoki, Hulu president Kelly Campbell, and Dollar Shave Club founder Michael Dubin.
As absolutely batsh*t as it sounds, this isn’t the first time this year that a celebrity has infused a limited edition product with human blood. Back in March, Lil Nas X collaborated with art collective MSCHF on customized Nikes, dubbed “Satan Shoes,” that featured one drop of blood in the soles. It wasn’t an official Nike partnership, and the shoe brand sued MSCF and Nas X to have the shoes recalled.
From sneakers to streetwear, apps to Oreos, celebrities endorse just about everything, all in an effort to break through the branded noise and make an impression. Pearson says Liquid Death’s Hawk skateboards could be seen as a subversion of celebrity ambassador culture. “We always take the approach of making entertainment over marketing,” says Pearson. “Celebrity endorsements usually feel like marketing, because who knows if they really like the product. With Tony, we knew he loved Liquid Death, so we made him put his money where his mouth is and pony up his own blood for us.”
Let’s just be thankful it’s not in the water.