October 4, 2023

Tricia Oak

Business & Finance Excellency

Flashy Promoting Won’t Resolve the Water Crisis

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This summer, there’s a new refreshing packaged drink in city, at least in my city of Chicago. The labels are colourful and flashy, the marketing campaigns seem like they were produced by social media influencers, and the title is, properly, unique. It’s named Chicagwa. It’s canned water, and it is entirely missing the issue.

What is Chicagwa?

I’ll let the statement that I received from Chicago’s Section of Water Administration communicate for alone:

Chicagwa, a new branding campaign from the City of Chicago, seeks to bring consciousness to Chicago’s proximity to – and wealthy heritage with – 1 of the greatest bodies of new water in the planet. The title Chicagwa combines the words and phrases “Chicago” and “water” to develop a consuming h2o model that also highlights the virtually 750 million gallons of water that the Chicago Office of H2o Administration processes each and every day. In addition, the name references both the Spanish term for water and the Miami-Illinois phrase “shikaakwa” from which the City’s name is derived.

TLDR: it is Chicago tap h2o in a can. The h2o was canned by Chicago-primarily based Wonderful Central Brewing Corporation and comes in six diverse cans, each individual designed by a diverse area artist.

“You do not have to have extravagant bottled h2o from Fiji or a Scandinavian glacier – not when the Department of Drinking water Administration cautiously procedures and purifies our consuming h2o so it is fantastic straight from the tap,” a assertion from reps of the Division of Drinking water Administration reads. “The campaign amplifies how Lake Michigan is our earlier, existing, and long run. We ought to do what we can to protect the source so that people can stay ‘Chidrated’ for years to appear.”

Nowhere in the responses to my queries did the town mention why Lake Michigan suddenly needed this constructive PR spin. Did the lake tweet one thing poor I didn’t see? I can only think the marketing campaign aims to attain neat factors for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot as she prepares for her re-election marketing campaign. But in the stop, Chicagwa was a skipped possibility to raise awareness and, I never know, basically do something to make a city’s drinking h2o more available to anyone.

How Chicagwa misses the mark

When I requested the metropolis how they have been functioning to address the impression of guide lines on the city’s consuming h2o, they sent back this amazingly PR reaction:

The Department of Drinking water Administration is doing the job intently with Metropolis Hall to develop a comprehensive, sustainable and equitable system which leverages the historic financial investment in infrastructure modernization to deal with this citywide legacy concern.

Chicagwa’s internet site points out in depth how the h2o is pulled from Lake Michigan and purified. The description, nonetheless, appears to skim around the portion exactly where that purified water will have to basically be despatched through pipes to people’s taps and the obstacles it faces alongside the way. Chicagwa could have been an consciousness campaign for the metropolis to possess its shit, something alongside the lines of: “Yes, we are conscious of the direct challenges, so we’re canning this drinking water in advance of it hits the pipes, and we’ll hand it out for no cost although we determine it out.”

These cans of h2o in Chicago aren’t even being applied to assist the city’s inhabitants that might not have obtain to a operating tap—yes, they’re no cost, but they are staying stocked in sites like dining places and markets that unhoused people are unlikely to patronize. Just one of the shots on Chicagwa’s Instagram web site shows Chicago Police Office officers enjoying the things, if that provides you an concept of the target demographic.

I would have even purchased Chicagwa as a conservation marketing campaign: our lake is so remarkable, so let’s not pollute it, let us cleanse up the shorelines, let’s make confident ingesting water doesn’t turn into a limited useful resource! In its place, the site’s “What It Means To Us” web site talks about how “water is our future,” outlining, “While other drinking water sources are drying up, we’re snuggled up upcoming to a big freshwater lake that is not going any where. It has kept us hydrated since the beginning, and it is huge sufficient to retain us and our neighboring suburban mates Chidrated for pretty a great deal generally.”

The city is basically admitting that promoting canned drinking water is 1 major brag about how we’ll be capable to be hydrated for good. It’s messaging that spits in the deal with of Chicago’s Midwestern neighbors about in Flint, Michigan, where the drinking water disaster has been ongoing given that 2014.

Entry to safe-to-drink and even protected-to-touch h2o is a continuing global crisis. According to Drinking water.org, 1 in 10 people today lack accessibility to protected drinking water. I’m all for novelty products, for praise of Lake Michigan, even for checking out diverse vessels in which to provide water to others, further than plastic bottles. But to do so with insensitive messaging all-around an challenge that has an effect on so quite a few is not only a missed chance, but a pretty heinous act.

Businesses like H2o.org, the United States Drinking water Alliance, the Clear Drinking water Fund, and numerous quite a few extra are performing to get water to every person and educating people on how accessibility to clean water and preserving our drinking water offer fits into the bigger battle in the world wide climate disaster. Partnering with any one particular of them on a task about Lake Michigan (and anything else to do with the h2o supply) would be a terrific action for the metropolis to display it cares. Till then, Chicagwa will continue to be an empty, puzzling PR stunt.