From the Web to its role in 1,800 annual events, the company is touting its environmental efforts
Fiji Water's goal is to get its message out that bottled water can be good for the environment. Yes, that is right. Having dealt with criticism of the impact of bottled water on the environment, Fiji recently launched its Fiji Green campaign. The effort promotes its new carbon negative company status, meaning that the purchase of Fiji Water takes carbon out of the atmosphere by its other environmental efforts, explains Rob Six, VP of corporate communications.
This message is just part of its overall communications strategy, which includes delivering core environmental messages and educating consumers about how Fiji Water differs from tap and other bottled varieties. The company also wants to show that it helps the country of Fiji, where its water makes up 30% of the nation's exports.
A three-person, in-house PR team works on Fiji Water's efforts, along with DC-based Scott Circle Communications, which has been advising on media strategy since November. Fiji Water's PR tactics include targeting print and online media and a comprehensive online push, including the Fiji Green Web site (http://www.fijigreen.com/) and blog, which launched in April.
"The carbon negative aspect was a really good opener for us with the media," Six says. "There's a lot of misinformation about the true carbon footprint of bottled water."
Also, partnerships with Conservation International, Carbon Disclosure Project, and ICF International have helped Fiji with its media outreach, giving the company third-party validation on its environmental activities.
Fiji has netted coverage on its environmental efforts in The New York Times and AdWeek. Laura Gross, president of Scott Circle, explains that a focused media campaign has helped reach out to those reporters, bookers, producers, and editors - in and out of environmental and business reporting - who are most interested in the story.
"We pride ourselves on a very focused media list full of [those] that will want to cover this story," she says. "We don't bombard hundreds of reporters with press releases because we do not want to waste anyone's time."
Fiji Water also takes part in more than 1,800 events each year, from food and wine events to environmental projects to fashion events.
"We want to get out there, provide the product, and deliver the message about being carbon negative and why our water is good for the environment," Six says of the events.
In the online arena, the Fiji Green Web site offers both reporters and consumers information about the water's carbon footprint, its partnerships with environmental groups, and the blog that includes Fiji's news.
"Part of our job is to educate reporters and really engage them on this awareness campaign," Gross says. "FijiGreen.com is a tremendous resource for reporters. There is background information, graphics, photos, and a large list of FAQs."
Fiji uses banner ads and e-mail blasts to share information, while it also communicates with environmental Web sites and blogs, giving them information about its efforts. Some of these eco-friendly initiatives include creating a trust to protect Fiji's rain forests from logging and a call-to-action campaign encouraging consumers to recycle.
Fiji Water will incorporate its environmental message onto the water bottle itself with the Fiji Green teardrop logo. Similarly, the communications message will make its way onto the back panels of bottles, which serve as another platform for Fiji to tell consumers more about the company and the product. The bottles will be updated to include information about the Sovi Basin in Fiji, which the company is protecting through a trust in conjunction with Conservation International.
"Fiji is very honest and direct regarding its message," Gross says. "[It is] proud of the work [it does] to become a carbon negative company. However, [it] has critics. Therefore, [it is] very transparent and forthcoming about environmental initiatives."
And with 2007 sales of $150 million, the company is surviving despite the attacks on bottled water.
"We've seen some positive press out of Fiji Green," Six says. "We've gotten great e-mails from consumers. In markets like San Francisco and New York, some of our top markets, we see double-digit growth. I attribute that to getting our message out about what [we]stand for and the product itself."
At a glance
Company: Fiji Water
Headquarters: Los Angeles
President and COO: John Cochran
Sales in 2007: $150 million
Comms budget: Undisclosed
Key trade titles: Beverage World, Beverage Digest, BevNET.com
Communications team: Rob Six, VP of corporate comms; Kelli Parnagian, corporate comms consumer affairs specialist; Grace Kang, corporate comms assoc.
PR firm: Scott Circle Communications