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Will the Evian babies make you stupider?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

In our case, just the opposite: watching those chubby-cheeked acrobats fires our curiosity. How do they do that?

Okay, we know it's just digital-age magic, but it's still fun.

The video must have the same effect on other people, judging by the millions of views on You Tube.

In fact, the spot seems to be doing exactly what ads are supposed to do - getting people interested in a brand.

Only problem is, when we search Evian.com, we find out a lot less about the actual water in the Evian bottle than we used to, pre-roller-babies. According to Youtube, the making-of video about the roller babies video has attracted an audience of millions. What if Evian paid as much attention to explaining the making of the bottled water?

As recently as last month, Environmental Working Group's research staff, which was rating bottled waters for adequate disclosure, found Evian to be considerably more informative than many of its competitors.

Evian's website named the specific source (Cachat Spring), described its treatment method succinctly (none) and linked to an 11-page water quality report with test results for a long list of chemical contaminants.

Why wouldn't Evian want to feature this report? Go figure, because the water comes off well: no contaminants above permissible levels and full compliance with all regulations.

But in recent weeks, now that roller babies have invaded the website, the water quality report has vanished. At least. If it's there, we can't find it. If you can, flag us.

The site no longer identifies the water's source nor treatment method, other than to claim the water is "untouched by man."

Instead of testing results, the site offers medicine-show slogans, for instance, that the water is the "essence of purity." Its invitation to "renew your youth" isn't just hot air. It's downright condescending.

Bottom line. Roller babies, brilliant. But the folks at Evian have a thing or two to learn about cyberspace. The web has plenty of room to accommodate straight-forward, science-based reports detailing what's in the bottles, so prospective customers can make informed choices. There are these devices called hyperlinks...

Is this hard?

Lack of disclosure earned Evian a C on EWG's bottled water report, "Is Your Bottled Water Worth It?" That's a better grade than rivals Perrier and Pellegrino, which both flunked.

Evian could have scored so much higher if it hadn't dumbed down its website and dulled its appeal to thinking people.

Until Evian realizes it can entertain and enlighten, we're switching our loyalties to You Tube's "puppy vs. cat."

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