It has certainly became fashionable to drink bottled waters. As the dangers of toxic compounds such as chlorine and fluoride found in public water supplies are being communicated with much more abundance, it’s only natural for people to look to the bottles for the healthy solution. But the thing is, people might be too quick to grab the bottles off the shelves believing that they are making the smart healthy choice. Because as long as the water comes in a bottle marked as ‘pure’ and is sold at a premium price, people won’t think twice about the actual origin of the water. And of course, beverage companies have noted this trend and are utilizing it to their benefit. Beverage giants such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi Co are bottling up tap water from public water supplies then branding and selling it as premium water. Out of these brands, Coca-Cola’s Dasani really made a splash after its attempted launch in the U.K.
First of all, to clarify the contents of Dasani water; it is not at all sourced from a natural spring, but simply filtered tap water. Of course Dasani has added some minerals for taste, it still hardly justifies the dramatic mark up in price from how much the actual tap water costs from its source. In this case, a plant in Sidcup, Kent. To get an idea of the markup, a half liter of water from this plant in Kent at the time was costing 0.03p. And when the same water is coming in a Dasani bottle, it was costing 95p per half liter. This was a total of 316,600% markup over the actual value of the water.
The deceiving marketing placed on the tap water was not the only thing that went wrong with Dasani. The brand decided to go with the slogan “Can’t live without spunk” on their online marketing campaign for their water. In the sense that the water is “full of spunk”, when the awkward thing is, in the UK, the word spunk is actually slang for semen. This mistake made in consequence of lack of marketing research went on to a snowball effect drawing negative attention to the brand. First, it didn’t help to have the advertisements full of models who are spilling water over their faces; then Coca-Cola was insisting in their marketing that this spunky water was something you can “enjoy at home, at the gym, at work and in between’ and it is a “way of everyday life”. After this whole mess, it’s hard to imagine what the brand can do to save itself.
Coca-Cola did make some sad attempts in trying to fix the PR nightmare that is Dasani in the UK. But ultimately the brand was a miss in the country, the company lost 7-10 million pounds in marketing alone. In the end the stunt forced Coca-Cola to pull the brand Dasani from the market in the UK, and it also closed the doors to many other markets in Europe for the brand.