While writing about Keringet’s new eco friendly bottle, I had a flashback on a campaign by Nairobi Water Company. And then over the weekend- I see Cecilia Mwangi (Miss World Kenya 2005) again endorsing how clean some water from a tap is. Do I call this a coincidence or serendipity? (Well, I just had to use the latter word for the sake of one of my colleagues)
But first, allow me to mention something to do with the water drinking habits of Kenyans. They (Kenyans) have this notion that drinking water from a branded bottle or a fancy water bottle that looks like a gadget from star wars is classy. If my observation here is far fetched- then someone explain to me why our dear ladies can’t keep these bottles in their bags; do they have to walk around with them as accessories? And what’s with them being luminously colored? As for the rest of us, we only seem or when we see a water cooler calmly standing at an office reception somewhere. The urge suddenly disappears if there are no tumblers available.
But generally, those of us who get thirsty (genuinely) and want some (safe) drinking water will, once in a while, buy bottled water- and there is a plethora of brands to choose from. Nairobi water has taken upon itself to create a demand for them. Market research reveals that the middle and upper class income households are driving the bottled water consumer trend, though the total market penetration remains low compared with global consumption rate of more than seven gallons per person per year in the $75bn bottled water market.
Back to Cecelia Mwangi. I remember, vaguely sometime late 2011, I saw the same ad from Nairobi water trying to dispel the perception that tap water is not sanitary. I saw Cecelia in a rush to go somewhere- she quickly fills her water bottle from the kitchen tap and takes a sip (why not a gulp- I guess its not lady like). ‘You can now drink clean water straight from the tap’ she says, before scuttling away.
Similarly, there is a footballer from Harambee Stars (I could tell from his jersey, but I cant recall who, and certainly it wasn’t Mariga) as he practiced in the field. He jogs to a tap in the field and fills his water bottle, proceeding to hydrate with much gusto. I never saw the ads again till last weekend- this Nairobi Water campaign was not sustained. It is erratic and whimsical, making me wonder if it was produced just to show the main stakeholders that something towards PR and marketing communications is being done. How unfortunate, considering they had a good thing going.
But then again, I figured, how could they continue saying that you can literally tap clean water from the dry taps? It would have been tantamount to sending contradicting messages to the thirsty consumer who has already formed an already negative perception to the sanitary credibility of the water. If only we could reliably get some water rushing through our taps, then we might consider drinking straight from the tap. And by the way, where do the roving water tankers get their water from?