Famous Last Words: Spin-marketing
A world-class Belgian restaurant, ZoT, opened 11⁄2 blocks from my 1817 Philadelphia row house. The Bombay Sapphire martinis (shaken not stirred), endive salad, frites and 29 recipes for steamed mussels are to die for.
At ZoT, my wife, Peggy, and I ordered sparkling water, and out came the damnedest designer bottle I have ever seen containing VOSS Artesian Water from Norway.
Sometimes I grab a bottle of water in the airport or train station and when I go to twist the cap off, I notice the stuff comes from Fiji. Why am I buying water from a source 12,000 miles away? Or from Evian, which is 4,000 miles away? Is it purer than Poland Spring? Deer Park? This is nuts!
So here is water from Norway. The bottle itself had to cost a buck or more.
Go to the VOSSwater.com Web site, and discover how a couple of Norwegian guys, who have known each other since high school, created a luxury business out of nothing.
Christopher Harlem and Ole Sandberg dreamed up the idea of supplying “the highest quality water, to the highest accounts, in the highest-quality package.” The description on their Web site:
ARTESIAN WATER is collected from a confined, underground aquifer—the aquifer is pressurized enough to allow the water to rise up naturally through the ground without the use of mechanical pumps. Because the water is protected by this impenetrable layer, it does not come into contact with the air or other pollutants. VOSS Artesian Water from Norway comes from an aquifer in the pristine nature of Southern Norway, protected by layers of rock and ice, producing pure water unlike any other.
The unique bottle was the brainchild of Neil Kraft, former creative director for Calvin Klein. “We utilized the depth of our experience in understanding how to create a personality that differentiates itself through the entire experience and reflects the true essence of the brand,” Kraft wrote on the VOSS Web site.
An Omission From the VOSS Web Site
Not included on VOSSwater.com is the 2005 headline and subhead in Aftenposten News from Norway:
Conflict erupts over trendy “Voss” water.
The bottlers of trendy “Voss” water from Norway want to limit local access to its source in a southern valley in Agder. For the time being, residents continue to use “Voss” water for everything from watering plants to flushing the toilet.
What I believe Harlem and Sandberg have come up with is an entirely new marketing genre: “spin-marketing.”
VOSS acquired the world’s most common substance (water) for free, did nothing to enhance it and—through dazzling spin and elegant packaging—persuades diners to spend up to $6.75 a bottle at upscale restaurants, hotels, spas and clubs around the world. It is served exclusively at such events as: Sundance Film Festival, New York Fashion Week, the Emmys, Golden Globe and SAG Awards, and the Miami Polo World Cup.
If a couple of Norwegians can make this kind of splash out of a substance so common that it does not even qualify as a commodity, just think of the spin you could give your products and services by applying these techniques.