DiMassimo and Yaverbaum treat the Tappening campaign like a passionate hobby, since they both have full-time day jobs that involve meeting clients' demands. Over the years Ericho has represented clients like Ikea, Sony and H&M while DIGO has worked for Jet Blue, among others.
"We both have been careful about who we worked for," DiMassimo says. "I have not worked on cigarettes and shied away from categories I thought were not helpful. I evaluated the opportunities based on trying to do no harm. We wanted to make sure we had the answer to the question from our children about what we were doing for the environment."
Can the Tappening effort really make drinking tap water cool again? A SWOT analysis of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats follows:
So far, the Tappening founders, who each invested about $100,000 to establish the Web site and design the bottles, are pulling in cash: Approximately 39,000 bottles sold out in the first 36 hours, and Tappening has grossed roughly $1.5 million so far, all of which has been poured back into the business.
Meanwhile, Coca-Cola officials have agreed to talk to the Tappening founders, and a decision on the Dasani label could be reached that is of mutual benefit to both sides. So the PR surrounding the advocacy-style attack designed to bring a marketer to the table to talk is getting some results. "If they change their label to indicate the source of their water, we would absolutely not target their bottled water brand," Yaverbaum says.
The Tappening effort represents social marketing, an attempt to change consumer behavior, just like Advertising Council campaigns have gotten us to wear seat belts or "take a bite out of crime."
The danger is that Tappening's effort could end up resembling the futile efforts of Sisyphus if the real reason consumers drink bottled water is convenience -- and not because they think they are getting a healthier product.
William Smith, evp of the Academy for Educational Development and editor of Social Marketing Quarterly, doubts the effort to get Americans to switch back to tap water will get much traction because bottled water is so portable.
"I believe a small group of environmentally friendly people will buy into it, but a national trend seems hard to believe," Smith says. "That is principally because it is just more work for consumers who like the portability. And water doesn't seem to be price sensitive. People pay a lot of money for it."
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