Over the course of the last year or so, I wrote a book called Bottled Spunk – Its all about branding, and how it impacts, how it works and how to create your own. I haven’t yet got around to looking for a publisher, so I thought I would publish the introduction on here to see whether there was any form of market for it and to see what people’s initial reaction was.
If I get some good comments. then I’ll either publish the full text on here or go out and look for someone to help me take it to market. It’s 20,000 words and in truth has taken me about 20 years of research to get to this draft. So here goes..
1. Bottled spunk anyone?
In February 2004, worried by the success of their Rival Pepsi’s purified water product called Aquafina, Coca Cola felt they were being left out of the fast growing and extremely profitable bottled water market. So, after a great deal of studying the market, hundreds of thousands of pounds poured into research they launched Dasani Water to the UK, expecting a similar success to that which greeted its US introduction.
With this successful launch under their belt, they took the decision to recycle the marketing campaigns that had worked so well on the other side of the Atlantic. But in an incredible oversight on the language front, they directed their eager public to their US website. On the front of this was a bikini clad lady, next to a bottle of Dasani water, shaking her wet hair with the slogan ‘Can’t live without spunk’
The concept of ‘bottled spunk’ for the advertising and for any mainstream consumer website may not have absolutely universal appeal.
Testing potential issues with a brand name throughout the world is the work of experts, checking a slogan such as this would seem to be a fairly simple exercise – particularly with the might, budgets and brains of Coca Cola behind you. All this work and they failed to spot that in the US, spunk has a rather different meaning – and possibly taste!
Now they may have survived one mistake, but even after that rather shaky start, things still got worse.
A few weeks into the launch, The Grocer magazine happened to note that the water was taken from a commercial water supply in Sidcup, Kent that had been filtered. In effect it was nothing more than tap water. The claims were that because of their secret filtration process and adding of vitamins and minerals, it was particularly pure – even if it wasn’t actually spring water.
The proximity to Peckham could not be missed by the tabloids and they cited the similarity to the Peckham Spring Water that Dell Boy attempted to make famous in one episode of Only Fools and Horses.
Perhaps they could have survived two big mistakes?
But then, to make matters worse again, trading standards got involved to investigate their claims of purity and discovered traces of bromate – a potential carcinogenic that had been banned in some countries.
All the glossy packaging and advertising budgets in the world cannot hide a lie these days. The truth will out.
Our tap water in the UK is 99.96% clean and is the best in any developed nation in the world, according to latest OFWAT figures and costs 0.2 pence per litre. Theirs cost over £1, tasted the same, but could actually be more detrimental to your wellbeing.
When the press outed them, Coca Cola were forced to recall over 500,000 bottles and remove the product from sale only 38 days after they launched. They were left with lots of egg on their face, a redundant factory and a £7m waste of advertising money.
Worse than this, the story ran throughout most of mainland Europe, so planned launches to the lucrative markets of Germany and Spain were both shelved before they ever even began.
If it had been one thing, they still stood a chance, two and it was going to be more tricky, but with mistakes piling up around them, they were left with an impossible situation that only left them with retreat as an option.
Coca Cola are one of the most exceptional brand owners in the world and still made these mistakes by underestimating the global power of brands and the world we now live in where information is instant and worldwide. It is what economists describe as an almost perfect market. It is changing everything we do with brands and you need to work within the opportunities and restrictions it presents.
All of these mistakes could (and would) have been prevented by applying some of the simple rules that we lay down in this book.
What we’re going to show here, is how simple it is to begin to build an exceptional brand for yourself.
We’re going to show you what does and doesn’t make up a brand.
Then give you some simple examples and a step by step procedure to follow to create your own.
We’ll introduce you to the golden rules of what you can and can’t do with a brand and show you where some have taken their brands to the brink, only to save them at the last minute.
And show what some of the best (and worst) examples in the world can teach us about the strange and mysterious art of branding.