15 May, 2008

WWJD: Drink Spiritual Water?

If you’re thinking the gentleman on these water bottles looks a lot like Jesus, you’re right. The product is called Spiritual Water, and it’s regular old bottled water with a scripture passage on the label. It hasn’t been blessed. It isn’t fortified. It’s water, but the idea is people could use those spiritual reminders. And where’s an easy place to put those spiritual reminders on something many people use every day?

I have to say, the concept makes sense. However, products like Spiritual Water, Testamints and Bible Gum all play into a tricky area—the convergence of religion and consumerism…or capitalism. On one side, you say you’re trying to do something positive. On the other, you’re making money off a product that plays into people’s devotion to their faith, something that runs far deeper than simple brand loyalty.

I’d love to believe this is a purely altruistic venture, but...

Founder and CEO Elicko Taieb says, “Church is on Sundays, but people need something to help them through the week.” Having gone to Catholic school from age four to 21, I know you can go to church every day if you want, and they make pocket bibles, so I’m not sure what need wasn’t being filled before Spiritual Water.

In the Charlotte Observer, Taieb also said 10 percent of the company's profits will go to charity. And according to the Denver Post, a 16.9 oz bottle of Spiritual Water retails for $2—cheaper than Fiji (so is my rent), but a step up in price from Deer Park. So you could buy Spiritual Water and donate to charity, or you could cut out the middle man, take the $0.20 you save buying a cheaper bottle, donate it to charity yourself, and read a verse from your pocket bible whenever you want.

Then I looked at the Spiritual Water website, http://www.spiritualh2o.com/, where I browsed through the 11 types of Spiritual Water such as “Defense,” “Balance,” “Energy” and “Formula J.” With titles like those, one might be inclined to think such waters come from special springs or contain vitamins or energy supplements, but again, no. Every bottle is purified 100% California municipal water. At least Holy Drinking Water is blessed by a priest or member of the clergy. Liquid OM is energized by striking a gong and Tibetan bowls in its vicinity. And Darth Water is imbued with Midi-chlorians and the power of the dark side.

And finally, there’s the convoluted 15 minute promotional video on the site, which spends the first 5 minutes reminding the viewer water is important (right, important, source of all life on our planet, without which we wouldn’t even exist, I forgot), the next two minutes reminding the viewer prayer is good, and sure enough, introducing Spiritual Water as a solution for both needs.

Perhaps a spiritual reminder is enough for consumers to ignore the obvious capitalist sentiment here, but regardless of religion, products like this walk a slippery slope I’m not sure I could partner with. At any rate, I just don’t want to be the agency tasked with the anti-comp campaign.

Jesus Juice, please, call someone else.

--Captain Awesome

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1 others 'fessed up:

Anonymous,  May 19, 2008 at 12:36 PM  

This is a fair, balanced piece, but let's face facts. Capitalism is RARELY guided by altruism. Spiritual Water is a brilliant ploy to sucker religious wingnuts out of their money.

I for one think it's great. I wish I could come up with some way to profit off the limitless supply of stupidity many of the "faithful" have built up. And as an added bonus to me getting rich, the flock would be left with less money with which to spread their stupidity to others.

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