This is not that kind of trip. It's a trip courtesy of Fiji Water advertising as seen on CNNMoney.com. A misadventure in marketing that had the Los Angeles-based bottled water company use a slightly offensive headline: "The Label Says Fiji Because It's Not Bottled in Cleveland."
The city of Cleveland took exception; city officials retaliated by having the bottled water tested revealing that Fiji contains 6.3 micrograms of arsenic per liter, while the city's tap water has none. Ouch!
Does it matter that Fiji countered by saying that its own tests found less than 2 micrograms per liter? Who would you believe? And why go there? Wasn't the story about natural artesian water good enough? Isn't the product packaging attractive enough?
I was sitting next to a professional communicator last evening at a networking event and during our conversation I learned that her company works for the Philadelphia Water Department -- she writes the technical copy, edits the content to understandable language, and designs an array of reports about the water quality for various constituencies.
During our conversation we talked about how Philadelphia, which at one point was a great manufacturing center thanks to its ideal location on the banks of two rivers (i.e. cheap transportation and power) was the first American city to consider the delivery of safe water as a municipal responsibility.
I was fascinated to hear about her work because I know how challenging it can be to explain to engineers and scientists that what they care about may not be exactly what the people who read their reports want to know. It's always a matter of matching the message to the audience.
A little sensitivity and some research would have revealed the marketing department at Fiji similar information about the city of Cleveland, I'm sure. Water is a delicate matter, let an Italian tell you -- we invented bottled water and it comes in dark glass bottles with bubbles.