SodaStream has found itself in the firing line of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) – which just happens to be Nestlé’s lobby group – over its recent video ad, with the association claiming that it makes “false, misleading, and disparaging statements” about bottled water.
The video ad, titled ‘Shame or Glory’, recreates the hair-raising walk of shame scene from season five of Game of Thrones, and was inspired by SodaStream’s research on plastic waste, which found that 49 per cent of Aussies felt guilty for failing to recycle, and 56 per cent have made no attempt to reduce their consumption of plastic in the first place.
In a letter to SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum, IBWA president Joseph Doss said the association strongly objects to the statements made by SodaStream in the ad, and demanded that the company remove the video on YouTube and any other internet or broadcast media.
“While claiming environmental concerns about plastic bottles, your company’s video singles out bottled water products for criticism, but not less healthy, sugary beverages that are also packaged in plastic, such as carbonated soft drinks, energy drinks, and juices,” Doss said.
“In fact, bottled water has the lowest environmental footprint of all packaged beverages. In particular, the amount of water and energy used to produce bottled water is less than any other packaged drink. And all bottled water containers are 100-per cent recyclable.”
Doss said the video ad makes “express and implied claims” that promote the superior quality, healthfulness, and environmental advantage of SodaStream’s carbonated water, compared with sparkling bottled water, but noted there are some significant differences between the two products.
“Sparkling bottled water products are sourced from protected underground aquifers and must meet strict government regulations,” he said.
“In stark contrast, the source water for SodaStream’s product is tap water, which usually contains chlorine and may also contain lead, ammonia, mercury, and other harmful substances.”
Doss noted that unlike the strict government regulation for bottled water, water carbonation products such as SodaStream’s are, for the most part, unregulated.
“This leaves consumers particularly vulnerable to false, misleading, and disparaging claims about the superiority of water produced by such products,” he said.
“The regulatory scheme related to the two products underscores the deception that SodaStream propagates when it implies that its product is superior to bottled water.”
However, Birnbaum said in a statement that the IBWA’s threats will not stop SodaStream from trying to save the planet.
“The IBWA, a front for major plastic manufactures like Nestlé – the world’s largest producer of bottled water – is nothing more than an elite group of like-minded corporate sponsors who prioritise their own profits over the care of our planet,” he said.
“I don’t know what’s more offensive – the notion that a huge corporate organisation thinks it can silence a small company, or that the message they want gagged is that plastic bottles represent a real threat to the environment.”