Last Updated May 13, 2010 3:59 PM EDT
The campaign, which is aimed specifically at Hispanic moms and called "Better habits for a better life," touts the health benefits of drinking water and asks moms to replace one sugary drink each day with water. TV commercials feature a mother in a supermarket trying to decide between soda and bottled water. She runs into Hispanic TV host Cristina Saralegui, aka the Spanish Oprah, who talks about the importance of water -- bottled, of course.
In this campaign, there are no faucets or water fountains or any reminders for cost-conscious Hispanic moms that tap water is a whole lot cheaper than bottled options. Bottled water is big business for Nestle, representing 10% of its total sales. Its brands include Pure Life, Arrowhead, Deer Park, Perrier, Poland Springs and San Pelligrino. And as you might imagine, Nestle doesn't happen to sell any soda or sugary drinks (except a few coffee beverages).
So while the campaign isn't going to win any prizes from environmentalists, who already hate Nestle for all the empty plastic bottles it's sending to landfills (among other things), it will undoubtedly garner approval from Michelle Obama and other obesity fighters, who would like nothing more than to see people drink less soda. One of the many recommendations of the White House's report this week on childhood obesity is that when the federal government updates its all-important Dietary Guidelines later this year, the following message be included: "Drink water instead of soda or juice with added sugar."
The likelihood of the beverage industry letting this happen falls somewhere between recreational Mars travel in 2011 and the bankruptcy of Walmart (WMT).
But it's a noble idea. Because while the advice to drink more water may seem obvious, the reality is that people need to be reminded, perhaps constantly. Despite declining sales of soda, Americans still drink the stuff like it's, um, water -- an average of 50 gallons a year. And some studies show that frequent soda consumption is more common among blacks and Hispanics than whites. It's certainly clear that childhood obesity is more prevalent among Hispanics than any other ethnic group.
The Pure Life campaign is also a welcome counterpoint to the recent spate of attacks on the dullness of water from Gatorade and the beverage lobby. And if Nestle happens to sell more bottled water to Hispanics, a group Carolina Rodriguez, marketing manager for Nestle Waters North America, calls a "big contributor to the brand's growth in America," then more power to them.
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