Death Wish Coffee’s new NIL deals are anonymous, as the product may be performance enhancing

Three college athletes have signed with the brand, but you won’t see their name, image or likeness

Published On
Oct 19, 2023
Pixelated football player shaking hands with woman

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Death Wish Coffee has launched the first national marketing push for its ultra-strong brew, and its “Live With a Death Wish” brand platform, by enlisting some athletic star power—and then erasing it completely.

Underscoring the company’s new “Performance Enhancing Coffee” campaign, created by agency Mojo Supermarket, is Death Wish’s assertion that its coffee is so strong that it is banned by the NCAA under the umbrella of performance-enhancing substances.

The claim appears to be a bit of a grey area; the NCAA does not maintain a comprehensive list of the substances it prohibits for athletes, though it does restrict caffeine levels to no more than 15 micrograms per milliliter of urine.

More than three cups of Death Wish would push student athletes’ caffeine levels into off-limits territory, according to the company, which has led it to sign three NIL (“name, image, likeness”) deals with football players from Ohio State, Penn State and the University of Michigan—all completely anonymously.

 

“We know sponsoring these athletes might get someone in trouble, so we asked, 'Can we sponsor college athletes anonymously?'” said Frank Garcia, group creative director at Mojo Supermarket, which was named a standout on Ad Age’s 2023 Agency A-List.

For what it’s calling the world’s first nameless NIL deals, the New York-based coffee brand has gone so far as to blur the players’s faces on screen and deck them out in Death Wish-branded jerseys with question marks in lieu of traditional numbers.

Running across digital and social media with a paid influencer component, “Performance Enhancing Coffee” is anchored by a 30-second hero spot showing the sponsored athletes excelling on and off the field—playing the violin, solving a complicated math equation, and easily scoring a touchdown.

“So, if you see a player out there living with a death wish, just doing something ridiculously bold, think to yourself, ‘Have they been drinking Death Wish Coffee?” one of the unnamed players says in the ad.

This is the first nationwide brand campaign for Death Wish Coffee since its founding 11 years ago. However, this is technically not the first time the company has received national attention, nor is it Death Wish’s first ad with a connection to football.

In 2016, the brand benefited from a 30-second Super Bowl commercial courtesy of Intuit’s “Small Business Big Game” contest, which awarded an up-and-coming brand with coveted Super Bowl airtime, helping Death Wish to more than double its annual revenue projections that year and top $20 million in sales.

Credits

Date
Oct 19, 2023
Client :
Death Wish Coffee
Agency :
Mojo Supermarket
Director :
MAMA
Live Action Production :
PF100
Post Production :
P.S. 260
Color Grade :
Assembly
Audio Post Production :
Gramercy Post

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Project Type