Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

We all want to live forever.

Recently, though, we've become a little more conscious of how much we contribute toward everyone not living forever. 

Or even for that much longer.

We carelessly pollute. We mindlessly infect. We soullessly contribute to so much destruction that we could happily stop, if only we'd try.

Large corporations are beginning to see that survival matters to us. So they're committing themselves to a greener, more friendly future.

Among those corporations is Coca-Cola.

I suspect it senses that carbonated drinks dripping in sugar might not represent eternal profit. 

For humanity, that is.

So the company has increasingly attempted to find new, (slightly) healthier avenues for it to make more money.

I was deeply absorbed by a Wall Street Journal article that offered an opening into some of these avenues.

Coca-Cola, as well as its rival Pepsi, has been mining new types of bottles such as reusable, recyclable and even aluminum varieties.

This is, of course, based on fear at least as much as caring for humanity. 

If plastic bottles get banned, what are these poor corporations to do?

Still, I wanted to admire Coke's newfound humancentricity.

Until, that is, I read that the company's is launching an assault on something truly fundamental to corporate life. 

The Journal quotes Lauren Radow King. She's the Coke-owned Dasani brand director for North America. 

She intoned on the subject of the company's PureFill chilled, filtered water stations, saying: 

People just like really good water. Sometimes these units will be placed right beside a traditional water fountain. And you'll actually see people line up to get water from these machines.

I understand that in these times of torrid change, nothing is sacred.

But the mere thought that the politically neutral, ever helpful, entirely discreet corporate water fountain might one day be replaced by a Dasani-branded monstrosity purely fills my soul with sorrow.

I try and avoid corporate offices as much as I can. You'll likely tell me that this overthrow has been occuring for decades.

For now, these PureFill machines are apparently being tested on college campuses and will soon appear at your local school or zoo. (But of course.)

You might think this commercial insanity. This water is, after all, free. Yet Coke does something your corporate water fountain never could, which might explain why people are lining up.

You see, it allows you to buy fruity flavors or bubbles and have them added to your pure, chill water.

Because the word free always comes with an enticement.

These fruity flavors and bubbles cost a mere 5 cents. For an ounce. Oh, plus a 15-cent transaction fee.

Which means you'll pay $1.15 to fill a 20-ounce bottle.

It's ingenious, in its way. Or, some might gruff, tragic.

Yes, of course there's a video that describes this maneuver as "taking it to the next level."

Imagine, then, this thing in your office.

Here you are with your beloved and very personal water bottle, ready to refill it.

And suddenly, you're lured into a bubble-fueled transaction.

Coca-Cola's Project Manager for Sustainability in North America, P.J. Newcomb, put the lure like this: 

So we want them [consumers] to go to the Dasani PureFill to get their free water and then sometimes decide to get some extra value by adding the flavors and the bubbles.

Sometimes decide? Or sometimes be tempted?

Some might fear that his sustainability title specifically refers to the sustainability of Coca-Cola's profits.

Please, I understand this is the way of the world.

But I fear a veritable icon is about to eat dust, to be replaced by a corporate logo. 

Can you imagine someone saying: "You'll never guess what I heard at the Dasani PureFill Water Fountain"?

Pepsi is also launching a similar water-delivering edifice.

It insists, however, that it'll be unbranded.

Published on: Jun 22, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.