Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Truth, Justice, H2O, and Britta

TV advertising and the “Truth”
From my friend, Ken MacDonald, a wonderful musician and zennist in Canada (it’s not America but an economic super power, so it counts).

In Canada they are airing a Brita TV ad. On screen there is a drinking glass on the counter which the camera fixes on the whole time. We see what we assume to be a bathroom door in the background. We hear the toilet flush and at the same time we see the water in the glass ‘flushing’ down and refilling. A woman then comes out to drink her water out of the ‘flushed’ glass (and by the way she didn't wash her hands, which is certainly more of a health hazard than drinking municipal water), visually indicating, you get it, that she’s drinking out of the toilet. If we didn’t get it, the voiceover says, ‘Water from the tap and the toilet come from the same source’.

The ad's been altered twice since its first airing. The first time (as noted in the letters between various water and health agency people, and Brita) was to put a legal caveat on the ad to indicate that municipal water has been treated to make it safe for drinking. Then, recently, they added a four-second insert at the end of the ad visually demonstrating a Brita filter change, while the voiceover tells us for best results to change the filter regularly.

The copy reads:

It’s Tasteless!

Nearly 40% of the developing world’s population lacks clean drinking water and about two million die each year because of it.1 By 2025 nearly 2/3 will live in water-stressed countries.2

In the developed world we take our supply for granted, flushing it away mindlessly. But BRITA’s latest ads seem to imply that since the water we use for all our purposes “comes from the same source”, it’s as we are drinking sewer water. Do you think that’s tasteless?

But if you do buy a BRITA filer, don’t expect it to protect you from anything … it doesn’t filter bacteria.

1 World Health Organization.
2 Morris BL,
Lawrence ARL, Chilton PJC, Adams B, Calow RC, Klinck BA. Groundwater and its susceptibility to degradation: a global assessment of the problem and options for management. Nairobi: United Nations Environmental Programme, 2003

This Culture Jamming ad is the opinion of the author. Brita is a trademark of Clorox Corp.

What’s really at stake here is that we have a limited amount of potable water on the planet. Pretty soon we’ll all be buying water. What will we do with all those damn plastic bottles?

Yes, we still need to cleanup the bullshit of political advertising. But how will we do that drinking vodka instead of water (and NO, that is not a solution even if it looks like the only way out).

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