Here’s One Exceptionally Devious Way to Sell Life Jackets

The distasteful case for water safety

Headshot of Angela Natividad

Convincing people to wear life vests can be tricky, even if it seems like common sense.

So, to drive home the importance of water safety—and plug its Izeber 50 floating model—French water sports brand Tribord invented a canned beverage called Wave, then dubbed it "the worst drink in the world" and offered it to passersby on a seaside boardwalk.

Created with agency Rosa Park, it's an ingeniously underhanded way to deliver the message. 

That's because, it turns out, the recipe is simple: saltwater. And—like most people in the clip—your body will reflexively reject it once it's had a nice, long draw. (Or, like one guy, you could just be smart enough not to drink it in the first place.)

The side of the packaging reads "Make this your last taste of drowning" and features a nice big image of the Izeber 50 life vest, which comes in all kinds of cool colors, is windproof, lightweight, warm and flexible. And while some of the spews seem a bit too good to be true, the theatricality helps get the idea—an important one—across. 

Tribord created the Izeber as a response to the statistical reasons why most people don't wear life vests: discomfort (48 percent), habit (42 percent) and lack of usefulness (37 percent), per a study from marketing firm IFOP for sea rescue organization Les Sauveteurs de Mer. Despite this paltry logic, eight in 10 cases of drowning could have been avoided if the victim had been wearing a life jacket, according to Canada's National Drowning Prevention Week, SNPN.

The jacket's many merits are modeled here by "Paul," who, in addition to loving safety, preparation and style, also loves life (just in case you were wondering). 

@luckthelady Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.