Most people know about Coca Cola’s failure to launch Dasani bottled water in the UK.
How they took tap water, costing 0.03p for half a litre, and tried to sell it for 95p a bottle.
To British people this sounded like a joke.
In fact it seemed so ridiculous that the comedy show Only Fools And Horses had done it several years earlier.
Del Boy tried bottling tap water and selling it as “Peckham Spring” water.
It was a hilarious idea.
But incredibly, it was exactly what the marketing geniuses at Coca Cola did.
They obviously didn’t do much research into the UK market.
They didn’t even bother researching the language.
They just used the online ad campaign they were running in the US.
It featured the strapline: WATER WITH SPUNK.
No one bothered checking how this would work in the UK.
In America “spunk” means brave and daring.
But spunk means something very different in the UK.
In the UK spunk is the equivalent of the American term “cum”.
But no one took the trouble to find this out.
So the adverts featured a beautiful young model on the beach, creating a spray as she threw her head back.
Alongside was the headline: FULL OF SPUNK.
A different headline told us that the young model: CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT SPUNK.
And yet another headline told us that the product itself was: BOTTLED SPUNK.
The campaign said we should enjoy spunk “at home, in the gym, and everywhere in between”.
It told us spunk was “vitally refreshing and abundantly available”.
And spunk could become “a way of everyday life”.
That is how Coca Cola marketed Dasani in the UK.
These were the same people that expected the public to pay a 316,600% mark up for tap water.
In order to justify the mark up Coca Cola explained that the tap water was thoroughly filtered before it was bottled.
The suggestion that the water needed filtering upset Thames Water, who were Dasani’s suppliers.
A Thames Water spokesman issued a statement to the press to clarify matters.
He said “Tap water is pure. People don’t need to buy this stuff to get excellent quality water.”
So, another brilliant piece of PR from the Coca Cola marketing department.
It was found that one of the things Dasani had, that tap water didn’t, was 10mg per litre of Bromate.
This is an illegal amount of a potentially cancer-causing ingredient.
When this became public, half a million bottles were immediately recalled.
In summary, the launch of Dasani was a failure.
It might have had a better chance of success if someone had bothered finding out about the market before they launched the product.
But evidently they didn’t think that was necessary.
Instead, just about everything they did was actually harmful.
Coca Cola spent around £10 million marketing Dasani.
Definitely not the best example of a well spent marketing budget.
But a good example that not all marketing is good marketing.