Latino Leaders and Communities Pledge to Turn the Tide on Pure Life

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John Stewart, 857-413-6261
Christine Chester, 617-695-2540

Latino Leaders and Communities Pledge to Turn the Tide on Pure Life

Activists challenge manipulative marketing of bottled water brand

BRONX, NEW YORK - On November 2nd, as the first Nestlé Pure Life retail store prepares to celebrate its two-year anniversary, more than a dozen college campuses, and communities around the country are joining a national initiative led by Corporate Accountability International exposing Nestlé’s manipulative marketing of bottled water and calling on Nestlé to stop its aggressive marketing in Latino communities. The Swiss transnational’s Pure Life brand, marketed on its health benefits, is sourced from public water systems and sold back to consumers at hundreds of times the price.

The action is spurred by a recent study in the Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine that found that Latino and black parents were three times more likely to choose bottled water over the tap for their children, citing safety and health concerns as the primary reason.

This is no surprise given the fact that, for the past 30 years, bottled water corporations like Nestlé, Pepsi and Coke have helped build a $15 billion U.S. bottled water market by casting doubts on public drinking water systems. But tens of thousands of individuals and communities galvanized by public education and action campaigns like Think Outside the Bottle are turning the tide on Nestlé by not buying into the industry’s marketing.

Now the Swiss bottling giant has developed manipulative marketing campaigns exploiting Latino communities’ concerns about health to convince people that bottled water is the responsible choice to keep them and their families healthy.

“Nestlé’s targeting of Latinos is just the latest attempt by bottled water corporations to try to convince communities and individuals that the only choice for families looking to choose healthy beverages is bottled water,” said Kristin Urquiza, Think Outside the Bottle Campaign Director. “But the fact is that bottled water has negative social and environmental impacts: it‘s bad for our public water systems, it‘s bad for our pocketbooks, and it‘s bad for the environment.”

“All we’re asking for is some honesty and transparency in Nestle’s marketing, If those small things are too much to ask, we have to wonder why company marketers are targeting Hispanics so aggressively and so specifically,” said Arizona Congressman Raúl Grijalva. “Anyone selling bottled water as a cure for the world’s environmental and health problems is selling snake oil, and working families should know all there is to know before they buy the hype. This campaign is a smart way to get the word out, and I wholeheartedly support getting Nestle to come clean today.”

Many members of Latino immigrant communities come from countries where many people lack access to clean, safe drinking water from public sources. So now, the very communities who understand first-hand the need for strong public water systems are the ones being targeted for aggressive market expansion of expensive, branded bottled water. Meanwhile, the public water flowing from their taps is held to a higher standard of accountability for its quality and safety.

"Nestlé's marketing creates a false choice between sodas and bottled water and attempts to convince people that the only reliable way to keep your family healthy is bottled water, " said Oscar Chacón, Executive Director of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC). "Today we are standing up to the world's largest food and beverage corporation, banding together to turn the tide on Nestlé's aggressive marketing in our communities.”

In November 2009, Nestlé Pure Life opened its first free standing bottled water store, “Mercado de Agua” in the Bronx, one of the lowest income counties in the country with a 53% Latino or Hispanic population and 89% people of color. As we approach the two year anniversary of this opening, community leaders are saying “Stop aggressive marketing to our community.”

Local Bronx environmental justice advocates are highlighting the store as the poster child for the brand’s aggressive marketing and are organizing a “Tap Water Challenge” in front of the “Mercado de Agua,” a blind taste test between NYC tap and Pure Life to see if people can tell the difference between tap and Nestlé’s expensive and harmful alternative.

“It’s distressing that people in our Bronx community are being targeted to buy bottled water for their homes,” said Miquela Craytor, Executive Director of Sustainable South Bronx. “New York City's water is of the highest quality -- it just doesn't add up. You always hope to see a match between reality and marketing, but obviously this isn't always the case.”

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Corporate Accountability International has been waging winning campaigns to challenge corporate abuse for more than 30 years. We were there at the beginning of this movement to demand direct corporate accountability to public interests and have been at its forefront ever since.

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