A bottled water company threatens to sue a public utility for infringing on its marketing claims. Seriously, guys?
This should go down in the annals of bad sustainability marketing . Nestle Waters, a $4 billion branch of the giant food conglomerate, threatened to sue Miami-Dade County in Florida after the county aired radio spots featuring a cute talking faucet telling people the county’s public tap water was cheaper and safer than bottled water. This claim, by the way, is backed by research. No matter, Nestle Waters called it an “attack on the integrity of the company”; the International Bottled Water Association, a trade association representing the bottled water industry, is considering similar legal action.
A water company suing the public water department is like Gymboree and McDonald’s Play-Place suing the city parks department, or a tanning salon suing the sun. Bottled water has enough problems with its carbon footprint, trash, and BPA issues–even citywide bans–without this kind of hysterical overdefensiveness. It’s so great for the industry’s public image that it landed Nestle Waters CEO John Harris on a “Corporate Scrooges” list alongside Rick Wagoner (GM), Charles Prince (ex –Citigroup), and other more notorious corporate scapegoats. Not the sparking-clean image Nestle Waters is probably going for.