Bottled Beverages

Coca-Cola’s Plant Bottle

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The Coca-Cola Company has years of expertise under their belt and an excellent marketing and advertising team behind them. If you think about it, it can be extremely difficult trying to keep consumers interested in the same product or variety of products that they have been buying for years. What makes Coca-Cola different now from what it was eighty years ago?  Small tweaks and additions to their products and company as a whole are just enough to keep consumers interested in their product. Not to mention, they are a “brand you can trust.” Your parents drank Coke, your grandparents drank Coke, and your great-grandparents drank Coke.  They are a family brand and trusted internationally. However, Coca-Cola’s New PlantBottle advertisement is the epitome of a greenwashing ad. It seems that Coca-Cola is almost manipulating its consumers.

Although we don’t know the degree to which the information in this advertisement is factual, we can say that it is not 100% factual. The ad says that the new “Plant Bottles” are “up to 30% plant-based and 100% recyclable bottle.” My first reaction was, well does that mean they weren’t 100% recyclable in the past as you led us to believe? The second issue with this rhetoric is the “up to 30% plant-based” part. This statement in and of itself implies that it might not even be 30% plant-based; it could be only 2% plant-based. What this statement means is that Coca-Cola’s new plant bottle could be anywhere between 0%-30% plant-based. But they don’t say that do they? They framed the information in a way that makes it appear to be significantly more environmentally friendly than it is, while remaining accurate. This advertisement can be categorized as an example of what Julia Corbett would call green product attributes advertising and green image advertising because this advertisement is essentially saying that you (consumers) are being slightly more environmentally friendly by using their product and are presenting their corporation as environmentally friendly in the process. In reality, there is nothing environmentally friendly about plastic bottles, especially when Coca-Cola is promoting the use of them with their water brand, Dasani. Dasani water is filtered tap water; they are literally selling people something that they can get from their own sink, essentially encouraging consumers to create more waste. This ad encourages consumerism and makes consumers think that buying this product is more environmentally friendly than buying its competitor’s, when the most environmentally friendly choice would just be to use a reusable water bottle.

At some point, we do have to be realistic and recognize the benefits of Coca-Cola initiating a plant-based bottle. We live in a capitalist economy and their product wouldn’t be able to survive if they didn’t evolve. Let’s face it, if they didn’t make the plat-based bottles, someone else would have, and Coca-Cola may have been beaten out because consumers like to think that they are doing something that might be benefiting their environment, even if they aren’t doing it in the most beneficial way.

With that being said, we do have to remember that the advertisement withholds important information like where the plant bottle is produced. After doing some research on the Coca-Cola Company website, I learned that the PlantBottle comes from sugarcane ethanol from Brazil. They explain that this sugarcane is grown on “degraded pastures located over 2,000 km from the Amazon, so that is has lower impact on biodiversity.” Their website also says that the farms that they source from “use effective cultivation processes, so the sugarcane is predominantly rain-fed and mechanically harvested.” While it is comforting to know that the sugarcane ethanol was produced in an environmentally-friendly way, we still have to remember that the methods used to distribute it are not. The planes and boats used to export the product require a significant amount of jet fuel, which increases our CO2 emissions, which arguably contributes to climate change. Not to mention the fact that Coca-Cola doesn’t give information on whether or not this sugarcane ethanol from Brazil is produced by fair trade. Did these people have proper working conditions and were they compensated fairly for their labor?

Overall, Coca-Cola’s new PlantBottle does have face-appeal to consumers for its partially environmentally-responsible bottle. However, we have to ask ourselves, do the benefits outweigh the costs? Don’t the means of production hinder on the argument that consuming this product is more beneficial for the environment?

Critique by Caitlin Dwyer

Nestle’s Eco-Shape Bottle

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Advertising is one of the most competitive industries in the United States.  Advertisers form communication techniques that aim to persuade, manipulate, and encourage an audience to take action on an impulse.  They do everything in their power to drive consumer behavior and align their tactics with the most relevant and eye-catching trends of the time.  As a consumer in American society today, you cannot walk down the street without being bombarded with creative messages meant to catch our interests.  This marketing signage is seen on bus stops, street signs, computer screens, and inside sports venues.  The more messages they design, the more they clutter our thought process; advertisers have already created an atmosphere where we develop immunities to their bland techniques. With that being said, advertisers are now using techniques that create a new meaning system for our culture with carefully constructed tag words and product placement. One marketing trend that has gained steam over the last few years is the “green movement” and advertisers drive their business by assigning a higher meaning to the “green lifestyle.”  Most companies are selling similar, if not identical products, but by branding their products as “green,” their companies may get a leg up on the competition. Living a “green lifestyle” has become a hallmark of the 21st century and advertisers are trying to capture the hearts of green consumers.

A few years back, Nestle launched a green advertising campaign for some environmentally friendly plastic water bottles.  Ironically, plastic is one of the least sustainable substances in our world and most Americans have access to healthy (or at least drinkable) tap water. The advertisements suggests that the new Eco-Shape bottle uses 30% less plastic than other brands and that puts less plastic in land fills.  The advertisers also argue that the Eco-Shape bottle has a new grip that is easier to hold while the container still holds the same amount of water.  The advertisers even market these bottles as “fashionably thinner” to make their plastic sound more aesthetically pleasing. The funny part about this campaign is that they use two different facts about the amount of plastic used on two different advertisements. Is it 30% or 15%?  There is a sense of vagueness here that puts a bad name on the green movement in general.

There are a few types of “green washing” in this advertising campaign. First, Nestle uses the green attributes of the product to sell more bottles of water. While still holding the same amount of water, by purchasing a Nestle water bottle you are helping to save the environment by using less plastic.  People feel better about themselves, and their environment, by purchasing an Eco-Shape bottle. Green imaging suggests that the bottle is much safer for the environment and blatantly ignores the fact that plastic is still one of the most harmful, and least biodegradable, substances on earth.  The most obvious “green structure” in this advertisement is the color scheme; the advertisement is almost completely colored blue.  The one part of the advertisement that is colored green is the “Eco-Shape” Label strategically placed in the center of the ad, this juxtaposition between the two colors makes the new label pop, and uses colors often associated with nature.  Nestle is hoping to capture the attention of consumers walking amongst the shelves looking at other water bottles. Purified water in a plastic bottle is an oxymoron; there are health risks involved with plastic bottles because it is a porous substance whose carcinogens can leach into the water over time.

If Nestle were truly interested in the environment, this ad would state: “Don’t buy our plastic water bottles…. Stay at home and bottle your own water in glass or less destructive materials.”  Because the water industry bottles millions of gallons per year, the net effect on the environment is a dangerous one considering the fossil fuels used to make and transport these bottles.  Not to mention, the effects this plastic has once it is dumped in landfills.  Bottled water is insanely expensive compared to the cost of tap water per gallon; not only is tap water a healthier and more economical choice, but it also doesn’t leave massive quantities of plastic laying around in garbage facilities around the world.

When reading through your next magazine, walking down a city street, or surfing the web, take a long look at some of the advertisements that have aligned themselves with green initiatives.  Ask yourself whether the corporation is doing something to help benefit of our planet or the bottom line of their company.  Understand that these companies are investing money in green advertising campaigns with the expectation that they will earn more from the consumers if they help lighten their environmental footprint.

Critique by Pierson Fowler

Fiji Water Company

The advertising industry is known to be one of misconception and persuasion, and it is no secret that we are constantly being bombarded with advertisements in our everyday life. But do we, the audience, have the ability to critically examine these advertisements and understand the claims and what information may have been withheld from us? The advertising industry has been one of the most profitable industries in the world for years, proving that they are very good at what they do. Over time they have worked to find the tools and tricks that can persuade any audience to purchase a product. One of these tools that they found to be extremely successful is green washing, or presenting a company with an environmentally responsibly public image, whether or not the company is actually environmentally friendly.

Just one month ago, Fiji Water Company released a new series of advertisements in which they decided to be very critical of our industrial world, reminding us that Fiji Water can bring us to a place “untouched by man.” The narrator, who is clearly a young child, shares at the end of the advertisement that their water is “bottled at the source” and “earth’s finest water,” and although it is totally possible that these claims are accurate, there is something clearly missing here that is not hard to find. Plastic water bottles take a massive amount of energy and fossil fuels to produce, and along with this, take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade. That is why the images of the industrial world with smokestacks and factories is so incredibly ironic. How can they be showing that as the ‘impure’ and disgusting world we live in when they are contributing to it?

One concept that Fiji Water really enjoys incorporating into their advertisements is that fact that they come from the most pure place in the world, Fiji. This is supposed to stand out to the audience so that they feel as though they are consuming a clean and natural product, however Fiji Water fails to mention the not so clean facts that come with their water traveling all the way from Fiji. The distance from the island of Fiji to the United States coast in San Francisco is about 5,436 miles. This long journey of fairly heavy water bottles consumes about 81 grams of fossil fuels PER BOTTLE. This might not seem too horrific of a number, however you have to keep in mind that they are transporting thousands of these bottles on a daily basis… This consumption of fossil fuels is just another example of how Fiji Water Company is greatly contributing to the industrial world that they are tearing apart in their advertisements.

This series of short video advertisements encourages the consumer to go out and buy Fiji Water in order to work towards a more fine and pure lifestyle. This sort of lifestyle can tends to be considered more liberal or nonchalant; however, these advertisements are actually covertly encouraging a capitalist economy. This is a technique that is used fairly often in environmental advertising, mainly because it is fairly difficult for the consumer to understand this underpinned, hidden message.  This technique is especially amusing in this case because of the fact that with the increased consumption of Fiji Water will come the increased industrial world being reprimanded in the advertisement itself. The greater amount of Fiji Water consumed means a greater amount of plastic water bottles being created, and the increased amount of fossil fuels being used.

These hidden messages are very difficult to critically examine without it first being pointed out to you. Along with this , these advertising companies are using these different methods and approaches because they have invested a lot of money and time in finding what advertising approaches are the most persuasive to the audience. Their findings that environmentally responsible approaches are attractive to the consumer market could actually be a step in the right direction. This discovery could mean that our society is working hard at making the right environmental choices, however this is being made difficult for us. Hopefully, these marketing and advertising companies begin to understand the responsibility they have to provide their consumers with honest ads, because in return, this could create more true environmentally responsible companies who really do care about their impact on our world.

Critique by Julia Raue

Poland Spring’s Eco-Shaped Bottles

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When ‘going green’ started to get public interest, Poland Spring jumped on the idea with their Poland Spring Eco-Shape Bottle. The advertisement claims that their new bottle is more environmentally friendly, because it now contains a dye-free cap, less paper used to make the label, and the bottle contains 30% less plastic than their previous plastic bottle. On their paper advertisement, Poland Spring also says that their bottle will cause less of an impact on the earth. According to the website Green Hard Truth, other claims that Poland Spring makes with their Eco-Shape Bottle campaign, but are not on this specific advertisement, is that their bottle is 100% recyclable and is more flexible so it is easier to crush for recycling.

Although Poland Spring’s claims seem to make the choice of buying their Eco-Shape Bottle an environmentally friendly choice, not all of their claims are true and most are irrelevant. Green Hard Truth, discusses the claims Poland Spring makes in their advertising campaign and disputes them. To start off on the positive side of Poland Spring’s advertisement, their claim that the label on the bottle is smaller is in fact true. Another claim Poland Spring makes is that their Eco-Shape bottle contains 30% less plastic than their previously made plastic bottle. To prove this, the company took the mean amount of plastic from 34 of their previous bottles and compared it to their Eco-Shape Bottle. According the Green Hard Truth, even if Poland Spring used 34 of their most dense plastic bottles, there is no way their Eco-Shape Bottle contains 30% less plastic. [JP1]

Advertising that the Eco-Shape Bottle is 100% recyclable is an irrelevant claim. This is no different than their previous bottle, or any plastic bottle. All plastic bottles are recyclable no matter how dense they are or how much paper is used to make their label. Also, the claim that their Eco-Shape Bottle is more flexible, which makes it easier to be crushed during recycling, is irrelevant. There is no data to back up this claim, and in the general recycling process plastic is crushed in giant piles, making the flexibility of the plastic irrelevant. In all, Poland Spring’s Eco-Shape bottle are not going to make an impact on the environment.

The target audience of Poland Spring’s advertisement is the general public. People of all ages will buy water bottles. Poland Spring noticed that products that are environmentally friendly sell better than ones that are not, so they made their advertisement to more successfully sell their brand of water. Even though Poland Spring is advertising that their Eco-Shape Bottle is better for the environment, they are actually just encouraging consumerism. They are trying to encourage the public to purchase their plastic water bottle.

One of the key flaws in their advertisement of Eco-Shape Bottles being better for the earth is that they are encouraging consumers to purchase plastic water bottles. Purchasing plastic is rarely the environmentally friendly choice. To be truly environmentally friendly, the public should be purchasing and using re-usable water bottles. In purchasing Poland Spring’s Eco-Shape bottle, the consumer is still harming the environment by creating a demand for more plastic. Also, according to Green Hard Truth, 86% of plastic water bottles are not recycled, so encouraging consumerism of more plastic water bottles is not environmentally friendly. While Poland Spring’s Eco-Shape Bottle advertisement campaign does not tell lies, most of it’s advertising points are irrelevant and have little to no effect on the environment. Instead, Poland Spring is encouraging consumerism and, in result, placing more plastic water bottles in the environment.

Critique by Leah Menaul

Fiji Water’s “Time Before”

“It’s Earth’s finest water,” preaches the somewhat eerie voice of a young child at the end of every Fiji water campaign commercial. But, is bottled water really helping the environment or is it adding to the pollutant epidemic that drives America’s environmental problems today? “Fiji water is a gift from nature to us,” each commercial says. Surely nature did not provide us with water within a plastic container just so it could be thrown back at nature through littering or throwing our trash in a landfill, and that is what this commercial allows us to wonder about. Even if the water is better tasting than others, it is still within a plastic bottle that harms the environment and adds to the issues human beings face every day when looking at their planet and what they are doing to it as a whole. Therefore, proving that what this commercial preaches is actually false.

These commercials use obvious forms of greenwashing that can be effective, but are also often challenged by the public. Within the commercial we see the use of what Julia Corbett would call nature as a backdrop greenwashing, because the whole time a transparent bottle is floating with bright images of nature inside it. There is a waterfall at one point and a beautiful rainforest at another. Outside of the bottle are grey and darker images of city buildings, cars driving on the highway, smokestacks, etc. that counter the inside of the bottle images and make the watchers eyes become more captivated by these natural images within, rather than the dark city ones. This use of nature as a backdrop constructs the product as environmentally friendly, when in reality it is just like any other plastic water bottle we pick up at the store nowadays.

Furthermore, these commercials also use forms of green image greenwashing to trick their audience into thinking that their product is more environmentally friendly than it truly is. An article on Forbes.com says, “A water bottler’s claim that its bottled water was ‘environmentally friendly and superior’ was challenged…the allegations are that the water bottler uses a ‘greater amount more of natural resources’ in the creation and transportation of the bottle water than competitors.” This proves that although Fiji preaches within its own commercials that it is more environmentally friendly and produces less carbon. In reality, this is false advertisement and their campaign is telling the public incorrect facts.  In another article on motherjones.com a women expresses that she “expected that the ‘carbon-negative’ label meant that Fiji was currently taking more carbon out of the environmental than it was producing” but in reality we learn later on in the article that, “Fiji water has said in a press release that the offsets necessary to make it ‘carbon-negative’ will not be realized until 2037” (motherjones 1). This further shows what great lengths these commercials are willing to go to in order to make money and trick the public into thinking they are making an environmentally conscious choice by picking up a Fiji water bottle. Although, these campaigns may be working to sell more water bottles, they are also working to produce more pollution in our world overall.

Through using these greenwashing tactics the commercial becomes very affective for the world population, because we as human beings are always looking for how we can be more environmentally friendly, especially in today’s increased pollution-ridden world. Our population watches a commercial like this and is drawn to the bright images of nature, as well as the odd voice of the child and is therefore tricked into purchasing this water for themselves. Our population thinks they are being environmentally friendly, because that is what the commercial has told us, but in actuality the commercial has used greenwashing and incorrect facts to trick their viewers into purchasing their product.

Although this may be an effective form of advertisement, ethically, it is all wrong. These commercials show Fiji water as an environmentally friendly product, when in truth it is not. Fiji water is still adding to the pollutant epidemic that scorches America and the rest of the world. By lying and saying that it is environmentally friendly, but not actually being made for the environment, this company simply looks the part of being for the environment. Yet, the campaign is simply another way for a large corporation to make money from lies. Fiji water is another campaign that uses greenwashing when preaching about its “environmentally conscious” product.

Critique by Alexa Mitchell

Evian’s Roller Babies International Commercial

Media skews the way we consume everyday products. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements and commercials. In one trip to the store, walk down to town, or thirty-minute television show, flashing before us are items we should purchase, things we should consume, and a variety of material goods that are supposed to increase our life satisfaction. The question is, are they selling us what they are telling us or are they simply stretching the good to best fit what we think we need? A product like water, for example, is essential for our existence, but in many instances, we are not paying for the water, but for the advertisement. Water is something very close to nature. In many ways it is as close to the earth as you can get, but in this Evian commercial we see how this is twisted in order to build profit.

The Evian commercial shows water being portrayed as natural, organic and as a source of life and energy. These are all true of pure water, but is it true of Evian? It is obvious in this commercial that the truth is being stretched. Babies cannot actually dance on roller blades, but the consumer is expected to know this. The reality is the commercial is trying to persuade the audience into believing that the Evian water is a “naturally pure and mineral-balanced water that supports your body’s youth.” Evian prides themselves on being completely natural and environmentally friendly. According to their website, their water comes from the Northern Alps and is completely unprocessed.

The water may be unprocessed, but the product is not completely nature. Their bottles are plastic. The plastic, as well as the factories producing the bottled water, adds to the C02 in the atmosphere. This water is also being bottled and shipped around the world from France adding to the necessity of gas for transportation.

The target audience for this commercial are families, primarily moms with young children. Evian’s target audience is moms who want their babies to flourish.  Targeting this demographic is very smart because every mom wants the best for their kids and are also the most likely to be environmentally conscious. The problem with this advertisement is that it does not include any information. We do not learn what the commercial is selling until half way through the advertisement. Labor practices, the cost of production as well as the cost of the actual water is also not included. Water is an essential part of life and bottled water definitely limits the consumer to middle class and upper class families. Those in the lower class are more likely to drink tap water or cheaper bottled water. A 24 case of 16.9 oz. Evian water bottles is $31.99. This commercial encourages consumerism of a product that does not need to be purchased. Water is a source that, in my opinion, should not be privatized. The campaign shapes the relationship with water as being attainable and owned. What gives this specific company the right to make profits off of the water falling from the Alps?  Privatization takes away from nature and gives into the idea of a hierarchy were humans are the top dogs and nature is for our disposal.

The public relations and advertising campaign for this company is very successful. Using children, humor and aiming for a demographic of mothers as consumers is the best way to sell a product. The commercial works in its purpose to sell the most water, but it fails in its efforts to be environmentally conscious or accurate.

Critique by Jasmine Galindo

Fiji Water’s “Every Drop is Green”

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“Every drop is green” is the latest marketing ploy used by the bottled water brand Fiji water.  That is what they want you to think.  According to Jen Quraishi of renowned magazine and website Mother Jones, “The water is taken from a Fijian aquifier, bottled in a diesel-fueled factory in plastic shipped from China, and then shipped over the ocean to countries around the world.”  Fiji water is often seen in the hands of celebrities, which is partially the reason for its rapid success.   Consumers view celebrities, including President Obama, drink the water, which makes them more inclined to purchase it without knowing the whole story behind Fiji water.

According to The Business Pundit, the island of Fiji’s military protects the brand at the expense of Fijian citizens strictly because of the finances Fiji water collects.  Unfortunately, it is most important that Fiji water brought in 250 million US dollars in sales in 2014, rather than the Fijian locals have pure and clean drinking water.  Most people in Fiji don’t have safe drinking water, thanks to FIJI’s habit of exporting it. Typhoid outbreaks are common on the island.  The Business Pundit continued to point out that Americans continue to guzzle the water, thanks in part to pretty packaging and a $5 million “Fiji Green” marketing campaign.

This is precisely when “greenwashing” comes into play. According to Corbett, Greenwashing is the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service. The label on the Fiji water bottle is blue and green with a pink flower on the front, attempting to display the natural world. Fiji water is attempting to show the consumer that they value the environment when in reality this is a concrete example of “greenwashing.”

In the specific Fiji water advertisement I am focusing on, the common theme is nature and purity.  Phrases such as “explore the wild nature” and “the source of life,” pop on the screen as dolphins, as well as a female model swim in the ocean.  There are natural waterfalls, as well as beaches in the background as well.  In the literal sense, water is the source of life.  On the other hand, “explore the wild nature,” has nothing to do with whether or not a consumer will pick Fiji bottled water over a competitor.

More specifically, the type of green washing used in this commercial, was “green image.”  This means that a company or corporation will present itself as environmentally friendly, while in reality they are not.  The slogan used by Fiji in this commercial is “Fiji: more than water.”  By providing this slogan, Fiji is marketing their product as much more then just a water bottle, but rather as a way of life.  As I have stated, many celebrities drink Fiji water.  This slogan will only further the thought of individuals thinking they will be at the same social level of the celebrity. 

It is completely hypocritical that Fiji water claims to be so natural and green when they bottle their water in plastic shipped from China.  As I have stated they do use a Fijian aquifier which then they bottle the water and ship it all the way to the United States.  This method of producing clean water is not exactly what one would call “green,” except of course if you were Lynda and Stewart Resnick, owners of Fiji water.  Environmentally conscious individuals around the world view Fiji water as negatively affecting the environment for various reasons.  For example, the massive energy cost and plastic waste produced by shipping bottled water thousands of miles from the island of Fiji to markets in the United States and around the world which seems unneeded and against what Fiji water says they stand by.  Lynda and Stewart Resnick will disagree with the above statement, as they believe Fiji water is making a positive impact on the environment.   They argue that they are helping out the Fijian community because of the benefits the company claims to offer in the way of jobs and other economic returns to local communities in Fiji.   They believe they give back to the Fijian community through allowing labor to be performed to produce the water.

This commercial by Fiji, rather than showing the consumer facts about their product that may push them to purchase it, displayed live nature footage as well as vague environmental words in front of it.  While this tactic may be successful, I believe it is unethical and something needs to be done to eliminate this type of greenwashing.

Critique by Jake Danforth

Dasani’s “Plant Bottle,” Part 1

Plastic water bottles are viewed as extremely negative in today’s world. That is why companies that produce water bottles are branding their products to be associated with the environment so people will still purchase them. They brand their products as “green.” These companies are struggling to appeal to the public that prefers reusable water bottles. Dasani is one of the companies that is struggling with this problem, so they decided to start taking steps to create a better future. Dasani’s campaign focuses on giving back to the environment. With Dasani’s new Plant bottle, we can give back to the environment by helping create a cleaner one.

Dasani is the first-ever fully recyclable PET plastic beverage bottle made partially from plants. Dasani created a plastic bottle that is 100% recyclable and designed to make a difference. The bottle includes an image of a big leaf and green closures that plays up the packaging’s connection to plants and nature. The water comes in a redesigned bottle that is made from a blend of petroleum-based materials and as much as 30 percent plant-based materials. The half-liter bottle can be twisted down to half of its original size. That means an end to overflowing recycle bins and the beginning of a fun new way to remember to recycle empty bottles. Dasani claims how important it is to recycle and reduce, and their innovative bottle design is doing both.

DASANI has reduced the weight of its bottles, because lighter weight bottles require less plastic, which helps to conserve natural resources, lower CO2 emissions and save our world’s precious resources. Plant bottle packaging offers the same functionality and recyclability as traditional PET plastic, but with a lighter carbon footprint and reduced dependence on fossil fuels.

Dasani wants its customers to be given an opportunity to make an environmentally responsible choice by purchasing their product. But carbon footprint and emission reduction only connect with some people. Not all people can are persuaded by sustainable innovations. With Plant bottle, there is no immediate gratification return. But, Dasani claims its plant bottle packing is making a difference its consumers can reach out and touch today.

Dasani is providing a sustainable solution to the increasing market of bottle water, but I hope that they will use 100% plant material sooner rather than later. All companies should be doing this to do their part in cleaning up the air and the earth. I think Dasani is making solutions to the problems we created, but they are forgetting why the problem exists in the first place. Plant based plastics are great, but aren’t reusable water bottles better?[JP5]

Dasani’s campaign is a start and should be commended and rewarded, but at the same time I don’t think this is a real green initiative. Just because they make recyclable plastic bottles doesn’t mean they care about the environment. Dasani cares about money. They are trying to get their customers to feel better about buying their product.

Critique by Sarah Kate Glass

Dasani’s “Plant Bottle,” Part 2

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With the recent rise and success of the environmental movement, plastic water bottles have fallen out of favor for all environmentalists and that sentiment is beginning to trickle down into the rest of the American population. Last year Concord, MA voted to ban single plastic water bottles in their town! Dasani is a line of bottled water owned by the Coca-Cola Company, a multi-billion dollar public bottled drink corporation. In a recent advertisement, Dasani is advertising their new “Plant Bottle” a bottle that is completely recyclable and made out of up to 30% plants. I will be analyzing the communicative strategies in this advertisement as well as critiquing these strategies and looking at secondary aspects of the ad such as its target audience and its connection to “greenwashing,” a concept I will elaborate on later.

Since plastic water bottles are viewed so negatively nowadays, Dasani has to now brand all of their products as being associated with the environmental movement, or in other words, branding their products as “green.” Dasani is in a tough situation with their advertising strategies though; they not only have to try and appeal to the general public, but they also have to try to appeal to a very tough audience in the people that prefer refillable water bottles (i.e. Nalgenes) over plastic water bottles. To try and appeal to these two audiences, the ad utilizes a slogan that instigates a “call to action” for the viewer. The slogan reads “Drink up. Hydration is Healthy.” The phrase ‘Drink Up,’ is the part that would mobilize an audience, as it is literally telling people to go out and buy their water. The reason they say these audiences should go out and buy their water is because ‘Hydration is Healthy.’ Here we see a very strategic and smart use of association by the people who designed this ad for Dasani.

Associating with the health is the simplest yet most impactful thing to associate with to bolster your product. Why? Everyone seeks health; it is a state that every person who wakes up in the morning seeks to be in. That’s why this is smart advertising. Aligning your product with health and portraying that your product provides health automatically connects your product to every single human being. People’s morals and core values often affect the products they buy and support, but even if these people oppose what plastic water bottles do to the environment, they won’t be able to ignore the priceless health benefits Dasani can provide them, and that’s what Dasani is reminding them with this advertisement. Coupled with the fact that this product is 100% recyclable and made up of 30% plants, Dasani frames their product in a completely positive light even when the product they are selling has been so strongly frowned upon by the environmental movement.

Even though this Dasani advertisement succeeded in framing their product in a positive light, there are still aspects of it that could be improved. Dasani does not accentuate the fact that their bottle is so environmentally friendly. You can find a description of the makeup of their “green” bottle in small print in the bottom right hand corner, a description that is clearly overshadowed by the focal point of the ad, their slogan and bottle. At first glance, this ad is just telling you to drink water and that it is good for you, which has to change if Dasani is targeting an environmentally educated audience with this ad. Emphasizing the “green-ness” of their bottle would be smart to appeal to the environmentally-minded.

“Greenwashing” is a phrase associated with environmental advertising, which means overemphasis or misrepresentation of the environment in the mass media. This is a common environmental ad strategy, but you minimally see it in this Dasani ad for the simple reason that plastic water bottle companies have to be green if they want to survive, it is as simple as that. Which brings up an ethical issue, are these companies making their bottles more environmentally friendly for business reasons or ethical reasons? Of course this is all hypothetical, but it is definitely an important concept to note when looking at the ethics of environmental advertising. The biggest element of greenwashing in this ad is the fact that they omitted the environmental harms of their plastic bottles, regardless of if their recyclable or not. In a way it almost sets a high ethical standard in the plastic water bottle industry, since advancing in the industry means advancing in environmentally-friendly bottles. Greenwashing isn’t very present in this ad because this industry is based around environmental innovation and advancement, but the ad does raise questions about the values of the Dasani-executives, do they improve their bottles for financial gain or environmental gain?

This advertisement sheds light on the sort of advertising tactics that advertisers in the plastic water bottle industry have to use in order to be successful. In short, they have to find a way to shed only positive light on their product, and at the same time overshadowing the fact that plastic water bottles are harmful to our environment. My analysis unfortunately does not reveal much about the effects of greenwashing, but it does raise a very important concept, the desires of plastic water bottle executives. Do they improve the environmental friendliness of their bottles to keep up in the industry or for the financial gains that follow?

Critique by Anderson Good

Fiji Water’s “Untouched by Man”

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For the critical essay assignment I chose to examine Fiji water. They have many commercials and advertisements saying and showing how green and natural they are “ untouched by man.” Fiji water is the number one bottled water imported by the United States, possibly because it seems green and tropical when it is only one of those things. Fiji water actually uses an aquifer found on the island of Fiji but the plastic for their bottles is made in China.

The companies branding is very questionable with a palm tree and a pink tropical flower that creates the appearance of a green product. I wouldn’t say the product is unnatural, because it is water, and how can water be bad for the environment, right? Well, it’s not the water that isn’t green. It is the fact the aquifer is over exploited. There is also high energy usage involved in creating and transporting the plastic bottles, which means a huge carbon footprint. “It is estimated that the production and transport of one bottle FIJI Water releases 81 g of fossil fuels and uses up 720 g of water” (Päster; 2007). The aquifer plant is run on electricity from diesel generators, while their plastic bottles are made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). These PET bottles have a half-life of a thousand years and if the bottles are burned they released toxic pollution into our atmosphere. “The company claims to overcompensate the carbon emissions by 120 % by investing in energy and conservation projects. (Bloxham, 2011; Lenzer, 2009). 1% of their sales are invested to rainforest conservation projects on Fiji in cooperation with the NGO Conservation International (FIJI Water, 2014).” But carbon offsetting doesn’t make up for the fact their product is not green. The false marketing strategy is every convincing to the naked eye. Many of the local people cannot afford to drink the company’s water although the government does enjoy the recognition the island has received. The company’s advertisements are strongly promoting that they are a sustainably green company, using slogans like “untouched by man” and “ nature’s gift.” In the background of the commercials it is black and white with plastic bags and smoke stacks and in the center is the outline of the bottle with green images of untouched natural scenes. Basically contrasting the human world in black and white and Fiji water as environmentally friendly.  It is very well presented and totally convincing.

Some positives about Fiji water are that they are a fair trade brand so their workers get above the local minimum wage. Fiji Water’s website says the company has now planted 250 acres of trees in Fiji. They have a Fiji foundation, which provides clean water and healthcare services to rural communities, building educational facilities for children and helping disaster relief.  They also have a long-term plan to conserve 400,00 acres of rain forest. The company might have some catching up to do in order to have a greener product but they are on the right track as far as helping people in need even though their marketing techniques are questionable.

Critique by Maddie Fernsell