diamond geezer

 Sunday, March 21, 2004

Eau dear

I'm a very tolerant sort of bloke, but there's one group of people upon whom I look down with undisguised scorn. Drinkers of bottled still water. People who'll happily fork out nearly a quid for half a litre of clear liquid in a throwaway plastic container when a tap provides a perfectly acceptable and environmentally friendlier alternative for virtually nothing. I'm willing to forgive those with a taste for sparkling water, I can suffer the purchase of bottled water during summer heatwaves or in nightclubs for rehydration purposes, and I can absolve those who drink bottled water abroad in an attempt to avoid botulism. But the rest of you, squandering money to quench your thirst with a drink more expensive than petrol, you're just weak-willed and wet.

So it's been with joy in my heart that I've watched the wholesale collapse of Coca Cola's latest waterlogged commercial venture - Dasini. This blue-bottled still water has suffered setback after setback since being launched a few weeks ago. It's been a textbook example of how not to manufacture a product, and how instead to pour seven million pounds of marketing budget down the drain. Dasini's website is a breath-taking slice of PR hype, brimming with spelling mistakes, desperately pleading to the public that the product is in fact safe, clean and value-added. Today that website is forced to apologise that the UK's entire stocks of Dasani have had to be withdrawn "due to an inconsistency in one of the minerals contained in the product." Or in other words they've contaminated their own product with bromate, a cancer-causing chemical. Most unfortunate.

Let's investigate ten of the company's other claims.

Claim: Dasani in GB has been especially made to suit GB palates and lifetsyles (sic).
Reality: It's been made in Sidcup, no less, from the local mains water supply. No mountain streams, no limestone springs, just Thames Water. Dasani is processed tapwater in a blue bottle.

Claim: Dasani's got everything you could want from a bottle of water – it couples a pure clean taste with cool stylish packaging so you can always look and feel great!
Reality: Odd this, because whenever I see someone clutching a blue bottle full of processed tapwater, I immediately think 'dickhead'.

Claim: Water's just water isn't it? Well yes, some bottled waters are the same, but not Dasani!
Reality: Coca Cola have forced various shopkeepers to remove all rival brands of bottled water from their chiller cabinets, which has caused a considerable amount of ill-feeling.

Claim: Reverse osmosis is used to filter the water, a technique perfected by NASA to purify fluids on spacecraft.
Reality: Reverse osmosis is also already used in many domestic water purification units. Not all that futuristic then.

Claim: Dasani is the one of the purest waters around, but it takes a lot of science to make it this clean and clear for you to drink and enjoy.
Reality: Not very good science, though, because the bottling process inadvertently adds prohibited chemicals that aren't present in the original tapwater.

Claim: We select a perfect balance of minerals and add them to the purified water to give Dasani its clean, fresh taste.
Reality: One of the minerals added in tiny quantities is calcium chloride, containing bromide, for added "taste profile". Nothing unsafe about Dasani so far...

Claim: Ozone is injected into the water to ensure its sterility. That way Dasani pure still, water has a clean, fresh, thirst-quenching taste every time.
Reality: ... perfectly safe until the ozone is added, turning harmless bromide into bromate - a chemical that could cause an increased cancer risk as a result of long-term exposure. Oops.

Claim: "Dasani is as pure as water can get" (Judith Snyder, brand PR manager for Dasani)
Reality: Well, that's what she said last week. I do hope the poor beleaguered woman's resigned by now.

Claim: "I'm sure that Dasani - being the UK's first mainstream purified water - will contribute towards the clarity and focus that we all look for in our lives." (Steve J. Errey, Qualified Professional Life Coach)
Reality: This is almost verbal prostitution, Steve. One also wonders quite how many misguided UK citizens feel so unworthy that they need to hire a 'life coach' to help them focus with clarity.

Claim: Javine, previously famous for being 'the girl that didn't make it into Girls Aloud'... has signed up to an exciting programme of activity with Dasani.
Reality: It's the perfect PR combination - a bottled water that's being poured down the plughole combined with a so-called popstar whose career is heading the same way. Wave goodbye, everybody.

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