BevNET: Drink Weird, Founded by Ex-Rockstar Marketer, Spreads its Weird Wings
BevNET sat down with DRINK WEIRD's CEO, Jason May, and President of Sales, Ronnie Bruland, to discuss the rebrand and what the future holds for the brand.
Hunter S. Thompson once said “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” And in a CPG marketplace where canned water can raise tens of millions of dollars with bloody heavy metal branding and major conglomerates are making “Transformation” and “Dream” flavored sodas, the weird have certainly taken charge. So it makes sense that Drink Weird, the Texas-based beverage startup created by a team of former Rockstar Energy executives, feels the time is now right to move out of a soft launch period and into a full-on rollout of its expanded and rebranded line of teas, waters and yerba mate drinks.
Drink Weird launched in 2021 as Weird Tea with a four SKU line of 16 oz. canned iced teas, selling into a limited number of retail chains and college campuses across Texas and California. According to CEO Jason May, who prior to co-founding the business spent 20 years at Rockstar as its EVP of marketing, that initial launch, entering the market mid-pandemic, was primarily a test run. Last year, May said Drink Weird “pulled back” on its growth by maintaining existing accounts, but pausing further expansion, while it reformulated and redesigned the beverages in preparation for the “real launch” this year.
“What we found was there was definitely a true and real need for energy-adjacent, clean label type products,” May said. “We found that our liquids were good, but our branding was off the mark a bit, and we decided to take all of the inputs from basically our first six-to-nine months in-market and dive into a complete repositioning exercise.”
In October, the company closed a $3 million funding round to support sales and marketing expansion, May added.
Weird enlisted local Austin artist Michael Sieben (who is also the managing editor of Thrasher Magazine) to design its new labels, creating a cast of unique alien-looking characters to represent each flavor. The mascots, with names like “Namaste” and “Batty Bat,” draw inspiration from a variety of sources – including good luck symbols and local Texas culture – to promote a welcoming and positive association with the word “Weird.”