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Aquafina and Dasani: Consumers are morons - Misleading marketing practices

by fravia+, September 2007 ~ (first published at in September 2007)

...for most european consumers, the idea of some bottled tap water sold as a "real" spring mineral water would definitely be on the top list of scams. Well, rejoice: it has been common practice in the States during the last ten years, and the slavemasters are now trying the same scam in the European Union...

Aquafina is despicable                
Let's repeat the obvious

Aquafina is just bottled tap water (by Pepsi) which is sold in almost all supermarkets and served by many restaurants in the States.
Dasani is just bottled tap water (by Coca Cola) which is sold in almost all supermarkets and served by many restaurants in the States.
You want more examples? There is also an european (Nestle) scam going on in the States: "Nestle Pure Life" (now this has been somehow mixed with the even more deceiving name "Poland Spring". This is indeed a spring water resort in Maine, near Fryeburg)
Selling tap water is like shooting at the red cross: you open a bottling factory and can automagically sell some 0.03 cents half litre water for one euro. "Go forth and screw the zombies"

It is worth mentioning that in the States such scam "tap mineral waters" have indeed an "historical" raison d'être: when, in the nineties, Perrier and Evian (a name which inverted means "Naïve", btw) invaded the States with their (real and expensive) "spring" mineral waters, the two main US-conglomerates, Coke and Pepsi, had to react and -since the best defence is always an attack- managed to pull through such most incredible scam: let's convince our own consumers to pay us an extra price for their own tap water.

The Bromate concoction

Note that this is not just an US-matter: the Dasani scam of "bottled tap water" was actually already launched (and sold) some years ago in Europe (at least in the United Kingdom, which -to a certain extent- pretends to be part of Europe :-), but has been -thanks Godzilla- subsequently recalled, due to its high percentage of carcinogen Bromate.

In fact, in London, Coke was tapping its Dasani crap from unpurified Thames water (by itself free of Bromate) but added for "taste profile" a batch of calcium chloride, which contains bromide.
Then alas, following a common practice in the States, they pumped ozone through it, thus oxidising the innoquous bromide into bromate - which is a carcinogenical and dangerous substance.
Hence it is easy to see how such "bottled tap waters" are not only obvious scams, but can also represent quite dangerous crap concoctions.
Personally, I fail to see the logic of killing the very zombies that fall for your bogus advertisement... but I guess that some commercial gain must exist somewhere even in this case.

Anyway the advertisement terminology is in itself quite sarcastic, come to think of it: "Aquafina: So Pure, We Promise Nothing". Hehe. Well said.

It is worth noting that Coca-Cola sells annually more than 300 million cases of Dasani around the world. This proves, in spades, that "Consumers are morons" and, incidentally, that advertisement is much too powerful in a society where kids are -on purpose- not tought any more the basic exegesis and rhetoric skills, in order to enable them to defend themselves against the slavemasters.

Less healty, more expensive

To conclude, using simpler words, Dasani and all "tap" mineral waters are less healthy than regular tap water, yet at more than thirty times the price.

It should be also noted that Coke tried to launch Dasani in France and other european countries as well. But with a quite remarkable difference: Coca Cola pointed out in their advertisements that "Unlike the UK or the States, the variety of Dasani to be sold in France is a genuine mineral water". Imho this sounds rather insulting vis-à-vis the english and american consumers :-)

Note that, apart the Bromate scam, in most cities, regular tap water is anyway "better" than mineral water (both tapped AND spring water) from any and all hygienical points of view: in fact after a coupla weeks in a plastic bottle, any kind of mineral water will taste pretty stale. Not to mention the many other ecological considerations: the beverage industry adds a bazillion of tons of plastic to all landfills and uses much too much energy by producing and shipping the crap bottles.
Yet consumers, all over the world, have been drilled to prefer to drink such bottles of "mineral water" (paying an extra price and being compelled to carry home the weight) after being bombarded by very expensive and orchestrated advertisement campaigns.
For more details see +ORC's old (1997: yet still valid) "Mineral Water" reality cracking essay.

Pepsi launched its Aquafina "bottled tap water" brand in 1997 and Coke quickly responded with its own "bottled tap water", called Dasani.
It worked, thanks to the incredible zombification level of most american consumers: believe it or not, these "bottled tap water" products are now the #1 and #2 bestsellers in the States... incredible but, alas, true.
Many restaurants in the States serve now either Aquafina or Dasani only. And try asking the waiter for some real tap water... he will probably be quite rude to you.

A legitimate question

Is it just bottled tap water or is there some 'added value' to be found, as they claim?
Well, in fact, here's a legitimate answer to such a legitimate question: bottled tap water is just a complete, absolute, utterly, gigantic, galactic scam: for instance, what the various firms describe as "highly sophisticated purification process", (Dasani: "based on Nasa spacecraft technology"), is just a simple "reverse osmosis" filter, the same approach used in many popular (and cheap) domestic water purification units.

Note also the visual deceiving approach: the 'Aquafina' logo is a line of mountains against the sunset: Il danno e la beffa.
Coke, on the other hand, had already invented a "Dasani plus" collection of "flavoured tap water": "Kiwi Strawberry" Flavor, "Pomegranate Blackberry" Flavor and "Orange Tangerine" Flavor.
Pepsi introduced Aquafina "FlavorSplash" in "Raspberry", "Citrus Blend" and "Wild Berry" flavors, while Aquafina "Sparkling (tap) water" has been produced in "Original", "Lemon-Lime" and "Berry" varieties.

A nice exercise for the reader

As a last intersting exercise, readers should try to apply some simple exegesis semantic to the following newspaper's snippet:

"Aquafina is the single biggest bottled tap water brand, and its bottles are at the moment labeled "P.W.S." Pepsi has been compelled to use new labels, that will now spell out "P.W.S." into "public water source"

- If this helps clarify the fact that the water originates from public sources, then it's a reasonable thing to do - PepsiCo spokeswoman Michelle Naughton said (in July 2007, better late than never).

Accountability groups are pressing for similar "concessions" from The Coca-Cola Co., which owns the Dasani (Bromate tainted) water brand.

Dasani's Web site says that Dasani comes, all over the world, from "local water supplies" and is then filtered.

- We don't believe that consumers are confused about the source of Dasani water - Coca-Cola spokeswoman Diana Garza Ciarlante said without blushing. - The label clearly states that Dasani is -ahem- 'purified water', so nobody should complain".

Sales of bottled tap water has been a growing source of revenue for companies such as PepsiCo Inc., based in Purchase, N.Y., and Atlanta-based Coca-Cola

Another interesting exegesis exercise can be applied to the following tap water advertisement: "Take the 'Dasani 7-day Refresh cycle. Drink Dasani everyday for one week and see how good you can feel. One thing's for sure, you'll feel great about yourself. And with Dasani's refreshingly great taste, everyday will be a breeze. Renew yourself with the Dasani 7-day Refresh cycle".

Try replacing "Dasani" with "Tap water" and you'll automatically obtain a nice reversing exercise.

Who owns what

PepsiCo brands

Aquafina     <-- tap water
Liptons Iced Tea
Mountain Dew
Lay's potato crisps
Quaker Oats
Sugar Puffs
Aunt Jemima's

Coca-Cola brands

Coca-Cola Diet Coke
Dasani     <-- tap water
Five Alive
Just Juice
Kia Ora
Minute Maid

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(c) III Millennium: [fravia+], all rights reserved, coupla wrongs reversed