Taboo Territory: Liquid Death, Kids, Cigarettes and ... The Deep From Amazon Prime?

Dude, you really should cut down

Who needs buckets of gore, gross plastic surgeries, glory-hole shenanigans or enemas to shock?

For Liquid Death's latest marketing naughtiness, pairing kids and cigarettes in the same commercial gets the job done fine.

The tykes don't smoke, natch. But The Deep from Amazon Prime's The Boys sure does.

In the spot below, hyping LD flavored sparkling waters, series star Chace Crawford dons the scaly suit and visits a classroom, schooling pre-teens on the dangers of sweet sweet sodas.

After feeding one youngster a glass of sugar and riffing on associated health issues (like erectile dysfunction), the Deepster lights up. 

"Basically, sugar is the new smoking. If you're gonna drink a ton of sugar, you might as well smoke a ton of cigarettes, too."

"You like sugar now?" he asks, hacking at the students.

Liquid Death | Public Apology

The whole thing's a goof, of course. It pushes hot buttons in an effort to generate breakthrough buzz with a wink and a puff.

It's weird and disconcerting seeing a commercial character smoke—especially with kids in the room. Harkens back to the 1970s—and even then, such imagery was frowned on and vanishing from mainstream media.

The approach follows a similar team-up from 2021, after which LD "fired" The Deep for setting plastic trash ablaze.

The cigs campaign packs a similar punchline:

"He wanted to make things right and approached our team to help with something he knows a lot about, health," the brand says in press materials. "However, we had no idea he'd go this far. Although we're very serious about the dangers of too much sugar in soda, we do not condone his methods of handing out cigarettes to kids or smoking in an enclosed classroom with children present."

"So once again, we've decided to fire The Deep, effective immediately, as our Health & Wellness Ambassador. We will never be working with him again."

All joking aside, does LD fear a backlash? Or, maybe controversy's grand in this context?

Vice president of creative Andy Pearson believes the strategy is justified.

"Everybody knows about the addiction and dangers around cigarettes now," he tells Muse. "But some 20oz bottles of soda can have more than 70 grams of sugar hidden inside. That's about double the recommended intake of sugar by the American Heart Association for adults."

"Maybe one day the fact that big beverage companies market their drinks to all of us—including kids—will feel just as wrong," he says.

LD lambasted Big Soda in May with its faux Pure Sugar beverage intro. Here, the Deep brandishes a bottle of the stuff for continuity. The brand last tweaked cultural taboos around young people in 2022, with underage drinkers (around 8 years old) pounding down canned-water tallboys in a regional Super Bowl spot. (That one generated some social chatter, but no real outcry.)

David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is managing editor at Clio Awards.

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