A 'Humanitarian Campaign' to Sell Bottled Water

Glass of waterAs more major U.S. cities are endorsing an effort to reduce use of bottled drinking water because of energy consumption and pollution concerns, PepsiCo announced it is teaming up with Starbucks and harnessing the movie star power of Matt Damon to help distribute a brand of "charitable" bottled water called Ethos. The marketing campaign for Ethos calls attention to the plight of impoverished Africans who lack access to safe, clean drinking water. For every bottle of Ethos water purchased, five cents goes to programs that provide African children with clean water. Ethos sells for $1.80 a bottle. Critics of Ethos water say it is a profit-making enterprise disguised as humanitarian relief, that Ethos is exploiting the plight of Africans to sell more bottled water in the United States, and donating directly to a reputable charity dedicated to water projects in Africa is a better way to address the issue.


Starbucks is undergoing a massive effort to re-energize its stores at present. It needs to also focus on renewing and growing its brand.

A nickel a bottle might have made some sense when there weren't any profits. Now that nickel is just insulting the intelligence of its customers. National distribution via Pepsi and they still can't fork over a dime or a quarter?

I propose a brand enhancing alternative--Since Ethos equals less that 1% of pre-tax profit at Starbucks, they can easily afford to donate 100% of the profits to African water projects. A generous, legitimate brand enhancing move that might help a lot people that need a hand.

Given that "Ethos" is the ancient Greek word for credibility or character/trustworthiness, this story is particularly redolent of corporate nonsense!