Vittel: It Must Be the Water. And the Budget.

Vittel is a brand of bottled mineral water from the northeastern French spa town of the same name. Sounds quaint, but the brand has since 1992 been owned by the not-so-quaint ginormous multinational Nestlé.

That helps to explain why ginormous multinational ad agency Ogilvy and Mather France has produced  these well-crafted, quirky, faux-quaint spots as part of a new ad campaign for Vittel, “It Must Be the Water.” And they’re big, really big.

Still Unaware of Recycling? More Pompous Education

It’s bottled water, Nestle, PR Newswire, Facebooktwitterblogwebsitesocialmediaplan, all wrapped into one. It’s brand-new Re-Source(TM) natural spring water, Nestle’s new greener-than-thou entry into the more-environmentally-aware bottled water market. They’re out to raise our awareness and educate us about recycling! And, we’ve got Whole Foods,, Cradle to Cradle(SM) AND Keep America Beautiful to round out the festive enviro-bandwagon.

Capsulized, what this PR-social media onslaught is all about:

  1. Yet another pricey bottled water (700 ml, $1.69) but in a 25% recycled plastic container focused on “raising consumer awareness about the importance of recycling.”
  2. A sparse and complex system for recycling those bottles at few selected Whole Foods markets. (Initially, 26 in California and Arizona with “goals” for more.)
  3. A stated objective to achieve a 100% recycled Re-Source(TM) container via burdening guilt-laden consumers to return the bottles while “tracking” their efforts via web.
  4. A chump-change (for Nestle, anyway) maximum $200,000 non-profit contribution solely dependent on the tortured efforts of the above-mentioned consumers.

Wow! For those who love bottled water’s convenience, here’s a bottled water that’s actually MORE labor intensive than reusable water bottles! While bottled water has it’s appropriate time and place, WHO would do this? Who would actually buy this water, haul the empties back to their Whole Foods re-source-branded GreenOps(SM) tracking station (if available), register and track their efforts via the web… all for Nestle’s 100% recycled goal, a nickel per bottle for Keep America Beautiful, and a ready supply of overpriced packaged water?

Call me a cynic, say I’m ridiculing a noble effort. The simple truth, as I see it, is: recycling is a third choice behind the higher goals of NO-USE and RE-USE. I don’t believe we should congratulate ourselves on recycling a resource that we didn’t need to consume it in the first place.

Use only what you have to. Re-use whatever you can. Don’t be wasteful. Simple.

UPDATE/AFTERTHOUGHT: For more reading pleasure, awareness and education, check out Waterwired’s post and link earlier this year to the 2008 corporate citizenship report from Nestle Waters North America. (Pretty infographics, judge the content for yourself!)