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Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshot

Bottled Water Industry Launches Marketing Battle Against Tap Water

Many people are finally waking up to the fact that pre-packaged bottled water is just not necessary. It has even been banned in places like Grand Canyon National Park. Over 90 U.S. universities have either banned or plan to ban bottled water on their campuses, according to the Ecologist, and over 100 U.S. towns and cities have also banned most forms of bottled water.

The bottled water industry is not taking this backlash lying down. Instead it has launched a marketing battle “to turn the public back onto plastic bottled water,” as the Ecologist puts it. In the U.S., the battle is being waged by the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) trade association. The IBWA even launched a YouTube video against what it terms the “anti-bottled water activism on college campuses.” The video, titled, Student Activism: 101, paints college campus bottled water bans as a matter of “freedom of choice.”

Watch it here:


Chris Hogan, IBWA Vice President of Communications said in a statement about the release of the video that a “ban on the sale of bottled water on college campuses restricts freedom of choice for students to choose one of the healthiest beverages available in vending machines.”

Hogan added, “Removing the students’ freedom to choose packaged water is a serious issue. Telling students that they can or cannot buy bottled water is a step backwards, especially with the growing rates of obesity and diabetes in theU.S.”

Looking at other IBWA press releases shows the fierceness of the organization’s marketing war against bottled war bans. When the University of Vermont enacted a ban on the sale of bottle water on its campus, the IBWA fought back with a statement that said the school’s mandate that “vending machines contain one-third healthy beverages, sends a contradictory and confusing message to its students.” The statement added that the decision to ban bottled water sales “also restricts freedom of choice for students to choose one of the healthiest beverages available in vending machines.”

The IBWA is fighting back with more than just press releases. The organization’s website asks consumers to “sign up to support bottled water” by signing a petition. The petition states that the signer acknowledges “that you drink bottled water and understand that it is a safe, healthy, high-quality product that should remain a beverage choice for all consumers.” People are asked to sign the petition because “with bottled water, I'll always have a source for clean, drinkable water in times of emergencies such as hurricanes, floods, or boil alerts.”

I am reminded of what the comedian Lewis Black, during a stand up comedy act, jokingly called bottled water: “The end of water as we know it.” He asked, “How dumb do they [the bottled water companies] think we are?” Apparently, the bottled water industry, and in particular, the IBWA, thinks that the American people are incredibly dumb. However, they just might be surprised if this campaign backfires...

Photo credit: Flickr user, Stevedepolo

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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