April 24th, 2008
On my way to work I heard that the last report on NPR (National Public Radio – for our friends from around the globe) was brought to me by:
‘Giving back to the environment with every bottle’.
Ouch! That hurt my ears in so many ways, especially since I was driving down beautiful PCH, a highway known for its spectacular ocean and nature views. Also, because there was a great article I read in a major publication (which one slipped my mind) a couple of weeks ago, talking about the tremendous environmental issues that come with bottled waters, and it specifically mentioned Fiji as a prime example of the issue. Shortly thereafter I read an opinion-piece on going for tap water in The New York Times, stating that it does not only make sense to do ‘the switch back’, but it’s also quite good tasting, contrary to public belief.
So hearing Fiji water, who so very obviously (it comes from Fiji afterall, not Catalina Island) are not a ‘green’ choice, toot their horns on ‘being green’ really rubbed me wrong. Before going on my rampage (for which I really should not have any time on a very busy thursday morning at my agency), I wanted to look up their site to see if I was missing something. And surely I was: Fiji just launched a major campaign called ‘Fiji Green‘ where they talk about how extremely ‘green’ their water is. Ouch, again.
A couple of open questions to that idea:
1. Although an obvious choice, do I really want my water to be associated with the color green?
2. If the entire world just recently heard the news on Fiji Water having a major negative impact on the environment, is it really a good move to create a campaign around being the opposite, or should it rather focus on the brands’ strengths and quietly act and hit the market with good news, rather then the idea that ‘good news is in the works’?
3. I am not a copy writer, but I do know a bit about the do’s and don’t's since I work with them on a daily basis. ‘Giving back to the environment’ by giving it a bottle is surely not a very sure-shot statement, or does ‘giving’, ‘bottle’ and ‘environment’ really sound like a positive statement together?
4. Launching an open platform is very 2.0, but it makes sense that the very first comment that the campaign received on its blog, in reply to the post ‘Welcome to the FIJI Green blog’, fired right back (‘I read a compelling article a few months back about bottled water, and Fiji water was highlighted as one of the worst performing bottled water companies with respect to carbon footprint…’). The comment that followed Fiji’s very lengthy defense comment brings my thoughts on a strategy gone bad, to the point:
As a side note on the same subject, my girlfriend and I did a water tasting-test of all the bottled waters out there half a year ago. We were not necessarily bored, but curious, and a bit nerdy, I agree. We bought around 8, or so, bottles of waters, from France (Evian) all the way to Fiji, and we threw in a couple of local ones. We put them in cups that we labeled on the bottom and we did a blind tasting test. The winner was Crystal Geyser (actually the Trader Joe’s custom-labeled version, bottled at the same source), an inexpensive water from California. A big blow on a very design and brand focused couple, but great news altogether.
Regardless of our findings, we stopped drinking Crystal Geyser soon thereafter and opted out for filtered tap water, and we surely don’t cry tears after the Evian’s and Fiji’s of this world.