Bottled Water VIPs Think We Are Anti-Corporate, Capitalism-Haters

A few days ago I posted about how the Director of Communications at Nestlé Waters North America took issue with a previous post about their CEO. This time, Tom Lauria, Vice President, Communications for the International Bottled Water Association responded:

…it’s the middle of day, and you’re running erands and you’re thirsty. You can buy a coffee or a cola but you want something healthy and refreshing, so you buy a nice cold bottle of water. Zero calories. Major hydration — it wakes you up! Any attempt by anyone to get people to drink less water is not in the public interest. Why are you targeting the packaged beverage with the smallest possible carbon fooprint? And it is clear people drink more water when they drink bottled water! At the end of day, there’s GREENSMOG…where anti-corporate types hide behind “saving the earth” to bash businesses because they hate capitalism.

First, I want to say that he has a point.  From a public health perspective it is better to promote water that coffee or soda.  But what about water fountains?  What about Nalgenes and Siggs? That said, I have to admit Tom’s response actually made me roll my eyes.  The Vice President of Communications for the bottled water industry thinks that we shouldn’t criticize…the bottled water industry.  Surprise, surprise.

However, the part that really got me was how he made one good point and then, given the paucity of reasonable defenses, devolved into grade-school, 1950’s rhetoric:  Anti-corporate types bashing businesses because they hate capitalism.  Anti-corporate? Hate capitalism?  Um, Tom, this is a blog about being an entrepreneur. 

Entrepreneurs typically believe in capitalism.  I would go out on a limb and say that I would be surprised if we have may anti-corporate, capitalism-hating readers.  Sounds a little paranoid, does it not?  Sorry, Tom, I’m an ardent capitalist.  I just prefer a different kind of marketing, one where environmentally unsustainable packaging is not positioned as being good for the environment. Even Coke and Pepsi, that have their own greenwash issues, do not position their beverages as being sold in eco-bottles.  Its all in the positioning.

I guess Tom and Jane think its their job to keep defending their deeply flawed marketing campaigns. I have a suggestion: how about taking the route of Motrin and saying you simply got it wrong?

So, I must repeat: Businesses and marketing folks need to be honest about what they are selling. When you make an eco-advancement you should shout about it. But you should not use it to misrepresent, mislead or divert. Consumers will resist and then it will be up to your Vice President of Communications to spend his time posting apologies on blogs across the globe.

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Photo: Vivek Chugh at sxc.hu

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About the Author

Jennifer Kaplan writes regularly about sustainable food and wine, the intersection of food and marketing and food politics for EatDrinkBetter.com and is the author of Greening Your Small Business (November 2009, Penguin Group (USA)). She was been named one of The 16 Women You Must Follow on Twitter for Green Business. She has four kids, a dog, a hamster and an MBA - find her on .