20 November, 2011

Vitamin WTF

VitaminWater are going all out with a new set of billboards advertising VitaminWaterZero, an improvement on VitaminWater10 because it's low calorie. That's a relief, cos all those calories in water have been bothering me...

Let's wind back a step here. They are advertising low-calorie water. Water. The stuff that comes out of the tap, made up of hydrogen and oxygen, rather than a bunch of carbohydrates that want to make friends with your hips.

I've been pretty flabbergasted over the last few years as these super-waters started, ahem, flooding the market. Bottled water is bad enough, with each 600ml bottle requiring about twice that much water to manufacture and distribute. Even advertisers tip their cap to the industry that has made so much money out of the ultimate free commodity.

But any product, no matter how successful, needs innovation to keep up the buying trend, so the gurus at Coca-Cola (Glaceau, who puts out VitaminWater, is a subsidiary of the soft drink giant) put their heads down and came up with stuff to put in the water to make it better for us. Advertising for VitaminWater is admirable - it's Gen Y styley with plenty of social media presence, and products spruiked to help in situations from hangovers ('get perky when you're feeling murky') to workouts ('more muscles than Brussels'). There's even VitaminWater 'uncapped' which sets out, armed with 600ml bottles of pick-me-up, to uncover the latest in music, sports and fashion.

The original VitaminWater10 range, with products names such as Focus, Revive and Spark, is pitched as a 'nutrient enhanced water beverage'. The liquid of life is improved with an alphabet of vitamins and flavours described as both fruit and 'other natural'.

They push the healthy line pretty hard: in the products area of the VitaminWater site, the interactive feature allows users to 'rollover to view nutrition info', which merely enlarges the front label of the bottle - already clearly visible - to zoom on the list of vitamins and additives such as taurine and chromium. It's a simple nutrition panel - it must be good for you!

So where, in amongst the -ins, -ines and -iums are the -oses? Where does sugar come into this? It seems pretty extraordinary that enough sweetener had been added all along to make it worth their while to bring out a whole new range that in effect spruiks the unhealthiness of the original product.

And it shits me that the conglomerates have carte blanche to take over the 'healthy' soapbox with 'enhanced water' (come on, it's a ridiculous phrase) when in fact that enhancement is in no small part sugar, the ingredient against which genuine health experts are fighting an uphill battle.

Hotbeautyhealth.com can't get enough of it. 'No more worries about high calories in our favorite beverages because Glaceau has come to the rescue creating Vitamin Water 10!' They spruik its benefits of only 10 calories per serving (although there are 2.5 servings in a standard bottle) and mentions three times how tasty it is, and as many times how 'natural' it is. 'Sounds unreal!'

My oath it does.

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