Water Stars in New Ads for Pur

NEW YORK Water is better when it’s not in a bottle. That’s the theme behind Pur Water Filtration’s new “Voice of water” TV campaign breaking this week. Owned by Procter & Gamble, the brand is taking on the besieged bottled water segment with a $45 million-plus campaign which taps Scrubs star Zach Braff as, literally, the voice of water.

“I’m water. I shouldn’t be trapped in a bottle. I’ve got things to do. Trees to grow. Thirsts to quench . . . ,” Braff says in the first TV spot. Supporting print ads, which debut in November magazines, read: “I don’t need a cap and a label. I look better naked.” Tag: “Pur. Good, clean water.”

After years of double-digit growth, the bottled water category grew less than 1 percent for the first half of the year, per Beverage Digest, Bedford Hills, N.Y. Price, safety and the wastefulness of discarding plastic bottles are among the factors affecting the category.

“The bottled water backlash is hitting a fever pitch,” said Eric Yaverbaum, co-founder of Tappening.com, which promotes tap water. “We’ve had water filters for years and no one cared. But, no one was talking about whether or not bottled or tap water was safe. This is a great opportunity for them.”

Bruce Lux, brand manager at Pur North America, agreed: “There is a lot of confusion [about safe drinking water]. We’ve definitely seen an uptick because of this confusion.”

Pur filters are No. 2 in the category. Sales grew 9.7 percent to $22 million for the 52 weeks ending Sept. 7, per IRI. Brita was up 8.1 percent to $61.4 million.

P&G spent $45 million in measured media behind Pur last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Lux said media spending would increase for the new effort. TBWA\Chiat\Day, Playa del Rey, Calif., is Pur’s agency.

While Pur’s past efforts focused on the functional benefits of the filter, this is the first time the ads will talk about the water. Said Lux: “It’s an opportunity for us to talk about solutions, not just the issues.”