The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is the bottled water industry’s trade organization, and while we frankly expect the same from them we expect from Nestle (a willingness to do things others might find unethical), we were frankly shocked when they signed on former Tobacco Institute spokesperson Tom Lauria.
A tobacco industry spokesperson seemed like an odd choice for an industry intent on selling the health benefits of its products, but then again, bottled water’s facing real opposition, and it appears thatthat doubt has – once again – become the product.
Sadly, we’ve already seen the IBWA’s willingness to do what’s expedient. When the Huffington Post rain a Lisa Kaas Boyle article outlining the sales downturns suffered by an “increasingly desperate” bottled water industry, Lauria posted a long comment (2nd page of comments, scroll down) that was a perfect recitation of the industry talking points.
Yet Mr. Lauria utterly failed to identify himself as a paid spokesperson for the IBWA, nor – as of now – did he disclose his IBWA affiliation in his Huffington Post profile.
Amusingly, one respondent to his comment said flat out: “Sorry but you sound like a shill for the bottled water corporations.”
It’s called stealth marketing, and most marketers find it distasteful, if not downright unethical. I’d feign outrage, but frankly, this is pretty much what I’ve come to expect.