How Not To Conduct PR by Rob Six of Fiji Water

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I drink Fiji Water.  Its pretty good, usually my second choice after Poland Spring.  And if there’s only Evian available, I’ll kindly ask the shopkeeper to spit into the palm of my hand, as that would be more refreshing than the French bottled water with the aftertaste (I don’t think Intelligent Design or evolution was meant to include water with an aftertaste).

OK, so I’m a fan of the product, but not of Fiji’s public relations efforts.

Justin Fox, the writer of The Curious Capitalist blog on Time Magazine‘s site, recently wrote a fairly innocuous post about Fiji Water’s invite-mockery approach to marketing.  The piece featured an anecdote about how at a Milken Institute conference that the Resnick family-owned Fiji Water co-sponsored, a professor got up and basically said that he could purify seawater at a fraction of the cost that would taste better than Fiji.

Environmentalists have always hated the whole bottled water thing because of the plastic bottles, but Fiji is especially reviled by the Eco Set because of its need to be shipped from the remote South Pacific island on a journey of thousands of miles.

Fox’s blog was about 12 sentences and a quote from somewhere else.  The literary equivalent of a squirt gun.

So how does Fiji Water respond?  It sends in an overzealous “corporate communications” operatchnik named Rob Six with a phalanx of 50 caliber howitzer guns to post a MOAB of a response.

Rob uses all the standard marketing-speak buzz words and phrases in a screed so flawlessly executed, one wonders how many times he’s had to deliver it before, and under what harrowing circumstances, in the product’s defense.

Before Time or The Curious Capitalist get a chance to delete this comment, I’ll re-post it below:

Justin – I head up corporate communications for FIJI Water and attended the Milken Conference. I’m sorry that I wasn’t in the room when Professor Cohen discussed the concept of processed seawater tasting better than FIJI Water and that what we are selling is “hype.” Professor Cohen’s machine sounds like a wonderful invention, but I would have challenged him on his statements about FIJI Water. First, his comments are rather insulting to the thousands of consumers who choose FIJI Water because of the great taste of the product, not the hype. FIJI Water fell as rain over 200 years ago, filtered through volcanic rock picking up natural minerals and electrolytes, and collected in an underground aquifer 40 meters below the surface, untouched by anyone or anything until the consumer unscrews the cap. The unique mineral profile, high in soft-tasting silica and low in hard minerals like calcium and magnesium, lends the water the special taste that many consumers love. I doubt the same thing could be said about processed seawater.

With respect to your skepticism of bottled water and our FIJI Green program, we have made tremendous strides in reducing the actual carbon footprint of our product and have taken responsibility for 120% of our carbon emissions through an ambitious carbon offset program that is literally replanting the rainforest in Fiji. Fiji is a developing country with very few opportunities to engage in the global economy. The alternative to bottling FIJI Water is either sugar cane or timber logging, both resulting in the destruction of huge swaths of Fiji’s rainforests. As I’m sure you are aware, deforestation is considered the second largest source of carbon emissions on the planet – causing double the emissions of the entire world’s transportation – and is something all of us should be doing more to prevent.

Further, our product is coming over on cargo ships already destined for the United States. (Cargo ships, by the way, are the lowest carbon emitting form of transportation. Compared to ocean freight, rail causes twice as many emissions, trucking causes seven times more, and long-haul air freight 57 times more.) These are the same cargo ships that bring Australian beef and wool and New Zealand wine to the United States. We believe that Fiji has the same rights as every other country to engage in global trade. FIJI Water represents nearly 20% of the country’s exports and around 3% of their GDP.

Finally, we’re proud of our environmental commitments and we are happy to have our product available at such prestigious conferences as the Milken Global Conference. It’s an opportunity to showcase our great tasting water and deliver our environmental message. I would invite you to track our progress at FIJIGreen.com.

Respectfully,

Rob Six
VP, Corporate Communications
FIJI Water

As if Justin Fox, the readers of Time or anyone else with a working frontal lobe could care less about the idiosyncrasies involved with producing and shipping a product that is inherently “bad for the planet”, Six’s protestations notwithstanding.

We all know that packaging something in little plastic bottles and then fueling up the freighter for a cross-planet cruise es no bueno.  But every other man-made product is bad for the environment also, and we as consumers have been saying SFW day in and day out by opening our wallets.  Get over it.

By writing a defensive response to a lightweight, mildly derogatory post that is even longer than the post itself, Fiji shows a desperation that evokes the Shakespearean trope “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

Give it a rest Rob Six.  We all know the deal and we drink this sh#t anyway.

Full Story: Fiji Water’s Invite-Mockery Marketing Strategy (Curious Capitalist)

In Fairness, Here’s Fiji’s Green Initiative Thingie

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