Acqua Veritas: Does Tap Water Just Need Better Branding?

acqua veritasThere are a few legitimate reasons to drink bottled water. You might live somewhere where the water is unsafe, such as Sierra Leone. You might have some kind of piping problem in your building or neighborhood. Or you might be in the middle of a road trip and in a hurry. But for the most part, bottled water’s success as an industry seems to be driven by branding and powerful marketing.

There will always be a market for specialty waters like Evian and Pellegrino (which I confess to enjoying on occasion with my Ravioli) but the mass market brands, most of which are actually filtered tap water, are a relatively new and hugely growing phenomenon with consumers.

Champions of tap water, on the other hand, have been confounded by the popularity of bottled water. Threats of legal action, elaborate blog posting, questioning people’s intelligence, offering snarky re-usable bottles… It’s all done little to stem the popularity of a disposable plastic phenomenon that threatens to bury us all in waste.

But here’s an idea: maybe the problem is branding? The government of Venice, Italy seems to think so. They’ve re-branded their tap water with the name “Acqua Veritas,” given branded carafes to city residents, and embarked on a celebrity filled advertising campaign. Genio!

The NYTimes doesn’t yet say what the results have been, as the campaign is new. Still, you can imagine the reaction many people might have when offered an amazingly cheap new product, which magically comes from their kitchen tap, and is approved and endorsed by major celebrities – not to mention being far more thoroughly tested than most bottled brands. Now, the city just needs to sell re-usable bottles to go along with it and they’ll be in business – literally.

If American cities get a wind of this, it could spell real competition for the bottled counterparts in a manner that no legal action or common-sense consumer action campaign could do. Maybe Venice is really on to something.
(Via TreeHugger’s Warren McLaren)

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

3 responses

  1. I think this is a great idea. It’d work for me as an advertising campaign. I’v heard that NYC tap water is great and as a result, when I’m there, I choose tap over bottled.

  2. It’s a totally great idea. I too have heard that NYC’s tap water is actually pretty good (the problem for them is that the old building’s old pipes screw that equation up), but what about places like Los Angeles, where the tap water is neither good nor local. If this is envisioned to be grown into a much more global phenomenon, it might be tricky not supplanting one system with a large footprint for another, potentially equally egregious one.

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