We’ll sell you water… and then sell you a bridge

This morning, I saw a hospital worker on his way to the job carrying a one-gallon jug of water and I thought, how silly it is to haul all that weight when you can just turn on a tap.

And then I opened the NY Post and saw an ad required under law with city water authorities disclosing that they’d lost backup for their chlorine system sometime ago. The guy with the jug suddenly looked smarter.

And then I read an ad from some sodamakers’ association bragging that they were going to pull the sweet stuff out of middle schools and sell more water in high schools.

And then I saw the Freakanomics blog puncturing a hole in that gallon of sanctimony:

It’s enough to warm your heart — the thought of a gigantic trade organization deciding to forego sure profits to help slim down the next generation. Or maybe something else is at play. Bottled water is the fastest growing major beverage category, and much of that growth has come at the expense of soda. (Pepsi-Cola makes Aquafina, the No.1 bottled water; Coke makes Dasani, which is closing the gap.) Logic would suggest that water is cheaper to make than soda, and probably cheaper to market as well (especially now, with all the obesity watchdogs talking about the terrors of soda). It may well be the ABA’s decision to pull soda from elementary schools is a perfect one-two punch: a p.r. coup and a savvy shift from a mature, besieged product to a booming one.

And then I went into Starbucks and found their new EthosWater brand, promising to give “at least $1 million to fund humanitarian water projects” around the world. What better than slapping a brand on a bottle of plain old water and promising purity from contaminants than promising purity of the soul?

It’s just water.