It's official: SodaStream has waged war against the bottled water industry.
SodaStream is a carbonated drinks company best known for its main product -- a device that adds carbon dioxide to normal tap water to make it sparkling. The company has built numerous ad campaigns promoting sustainability, arguing that the bottled beverage industry is increasingly polluting our planet.
The most recent campaign, a video entitled "Shame or Glory," depicts a man who is repeatedly berated for buying a package of bottled water. (The ad parodies a scene from the popular HBO series Game of Thrones.)
"Basically it's a walk of shame, only it's about plastic bottles because the plastic bottles are indeed very shameful to the planet where we're using so many of them and...they just become trash in the oceans and in parks and whatnot. It's a disaster. It's a major hazard to humanity and to our planet," SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum told Yahoo Finance.
According to Birnbaum, the video has been viewed more than 50 million times, and is endorsed by 5 Gyres, an association that fights global pollution.
But what happened next is where it gets interesting.
A week ago, we get a letter from the CEO of Nestlé Waters in France, Denise Cans...demanding that we withdraw the ad from the internet.
Of course we will not comply because there's nothing false or misleading or defaming in that ad. It's the simple truth. But it's very inconvenient for these folks who are making a ton of money.
Birnbaum claims that SodaStream has already received six letters from a number of organizations, including the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), demanding that the company withdraw the ad.
The IBWA published its letter (addressed to Birnbaum) on its official website. (It can be read here). In it, the IBWA makes the following claims:
- The video advertisement "makes express and implied claims promoting the asserted superior quality, healthfulness, and environmental advantage of SodaStream's carbonated water compared with sparkling bottled water"
- Whereas "sparkling bottled water products are sourced from protected underground aquifers and must meet strict government regulations...the source water for SodaStream's product is tap water, which usually contains chlorine and may also contain lead, ammonia, mercury, and other harmful substances."
- "Unlike the strict government regulation for bottled water, water carbonation products such as SodaStream's are, for the most part, unregulated. This leaves consumers particularly vulnerable to false, misleading, and disparaging claims about the superiority of water produced by such products."
In response, Birnbaum argues it is the bottled water companies who are being deceptive. (And, in fact, there are an increasingly large number of people who agree with him.)
"Half of the bottled water in America is from municipal sources," he explains. "[It's] put in a nice package, glorified with a beautiful name as if it's coming from Italy or somewhere, with a very high ticket, and that's misleading consumers."
"It's probably the biggest advertising and marketing scam ever, in history," he says.