Evian’s Identity Crisis: Throwing Pearls Before Babes

Last Friday as I sat in class watching the 2005 film Cache, I couldn’t help but notice the bottle of Evian positioned ever so comfortably on the wealthy couple’s dinner table.

It’s not that the bottle itself didn’t belong; it was quite the contrary.  Though the sleek glass bottle  blended seamlessly into the bourgeois atmosphere, its presence reminded me of “Rapper’s Delight” and rollerblading babies.

The unlikely connection is thanks to Evian’s Live Young campaign.

Evian’s Live Young campaign promotes the rejuvenating quality of water through the ultimate symbol of youth: babies.  But, these are no ordinary tots.  Instead of embracing the lavish  environment normally associated with Evian, these babies’ throne is the urban jungle—they climb chain-link fences, rollerblade in large gangs, and dance amidst the grit and grime of the inner city park.

Say it isn’t so.  Evian is the ultimate status symbol.  From the beginning of time—1789–it has prided itself on being the best drinking and bathing

water that money could buy.

It is the water of celebrities, stars, executives.

It is the water that every broke college student, like myself,  aspires to one day guzzle–the ultimate symbol that one has arrived.  So why is Evian using tots with attitude to promote it?

This isn’t the first time that Evian has used our youngest humans to promote its product.  In 2008, the company’s commercial “baby ballet” depicted little ones swimming nude in the watery depths of a pool.

Though the nudity is a bit risque, this commercial feels much more tailored to Evian’s target market.  But babes rollerblading in the park?  That seems a little left-wing.

Perhaps I’m being a wee-bit dramatic, but this dilution of Evian’s brand is painful.  A company that sells water in hundred dollar designer cases  should not even attempt appealing to the masses.  It’s blasphemous.

And no matter how cute, cool, or quirky these babies may be, they won’t drive sales.  The average person will still choose a generic brand over Evian any day.  Even if they love the commercial.

This makes  me question the campaign’s purpose.  Is is merely a publicity ploy by Evian to remind the average world of its existence?

Hmm. . .possibly.  The campaign began virally, which means that not much money was invested to promote it.

But now that the company is investing heavily in the commercial’s television promotion, it seems that Evian really thinks the babies will bring in big bucks.

The Live Young campaign was introduced ten months ago through social media.  And 102 million views later, the company is bringing the ad to television.  And as the video preps for its television release, I would caution the company to recognize the difference between buzz and the bottom line.

Evian seems to be detached from this concept.  It’s saying “Hi, we’re here and accessible. . .Wait, you can’t afford us?  Oh.  Sorry.”

Conflict of identity.  If the company truly wants to market to the masses, it should introduce a lower-end brand with a sleek design under a completely different name and persona.

The current campaign seems like a desperate cry for help.  Beneath the heavy bass of the beat and smiles of the tots, the company seems to be screaming “Our target market is shrinking, so please buy our products.”

But wait.

What if the company is simply scared of becoming irrelevant.   Its website heralds its ability to constantly reinvent itself.  Perhaps, that is exactly what it is doing.

The company just released a print campaign in BETC Euro RSCG in Paris.  According to Creative Review, the ads  “feature ‘real people’ [gasp]  rather than models and contain the new Evian strapline: Live Young.”  There are more pictures of the ads on Creative Review.

Maybe the company feels its brand strength is great enough to retain its current market while simultaneously appealing to a younger, cooler, edgier, more rebellious market.

While I still believe that a little bit of packaging innovation, like the creation of the Paul Smith line below, is more than enough to attract the young money and that this current baby campaign is brand suicide at its finest, I respect the company’s chutzpah.

If nothing else, Evian will go out with a bang.

Until next time. . .

5 thoughts on “Evian’s Identity Crisis: Throwing Pearls Before Babes

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