5 things to know about her water biz | News Coverage from USA

5 things to know about her water biz

Millions of Americans tuned in Sunday night for one of the biggest Hollywood award shows, but much of the talk since then has been about not the globes that were golden, but the dress that was blue.

The gown was worn by model Kelleth Cuthbert in a shade matching the label of her patron, Fiji Water. She photobombed numerous stars’ Golden Globes red-carpet pictures with her tray of bottled water, ostensibly to help entertainment industry royalty stay hydrated during the marathon event.

The publicity stunt paid off. Consider all the chatter around the non-Fiji Water cooler and beyond since the big event, including two trending hashtags, #FijiGirl and #FijiWaterGirl; a viral meme that has her lurking in famous scenes, including walking on the surface of the moon and standing near Lee Harvey Oswald as he was shot; and parody Twitter accounts.

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Here are five things you need to know about the A-list water:

Hip to be square

Fiji Water is best known for its iconic square bottles, a hit among celebrities. Its label describes the clear liquid as “natural artesian water” and with the modesty of the bold-faced names it courts, the brand uses the catchphrase “Earth’s finest water.”

Even regular people gulp H2O, though maybe not Fiji Water. Still, a rising tide lifts all water brands.

In 2016, bottled water beat carbonated soft drinks to become the No. 1 choice in the U.S., according to the research and consulting company Beverage Marketing — 12.8 billion gallons sold versus 12.4 billion.

In good company

The premium water is owned by The Wonderful Company, which bought it in 2005, according to the corporate website. It’s a privately held $4 billion, Los Angeles-based company, founded by Stewart and Lynda Resnick. 

Other brands in the portfolio include Pom Wonderful, the pomegranate juice line; Teleflora, the flower delivery service; Halos, easy-peel, seedless mandarins; and Wonderful brand pistachios and almonds.

Buzz, buzz, buzz

The guerrilla marketing worked, because Fiji Water figured out how to crack social media by attaching itself to what it knew would be the talk of every town — celebrities, entertainment and the Golden Globes. That it’s an upscale product, not a downmarket brand trying to elbow its way in, helped, too.

“There’s such pressure on brands today to be seen and get noticed and say, ‘Hey, look at me,'” said Allen Adamson, co-founder of the New York-based marketing strategy firm Metaforce. “It’s right for their brand, their user base. It’s how they go in there without having to write a huge check.”

The Wonderful Company couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Whether the Fiji Girl move ultimately leads to more sales remains to be seen. Did the last such Hollywood-event stunt — the selfie Ellen DeGeneres organized at the 2014 Academy Awards — prompt you to buy a Samsung Galaxy Note 3?

Not new to shtick

Fiji Water may not add flavors constantly, like Oreo, or develop Instagram-inspired sandwiches and drinks — we’re looking at you, Starbucks, Burger King and Arby’s — but it knows how to grab attention. A play for the national spotlight came in 2006 when the company ran a full-page that proclaimed, “The label says Fiji because it’s not bottled in Cleveland.”

The city shot back by testing its water; the result shows Fiji water had more arsenic than Cleveland’s, the Associated Press reported at the time.

A real place? You bet

Fiji Water comes from an aquifer on the island of Viti Levu, according to the brand’s website.

Fiji is an island group in the South Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand, slightly smaller than New Jersey, the C.I.A. World Factbook said.

September 2014 brought the country’s first democratically elected government and parliament in eight years. The previous leadership had obtained power with a coup.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Zlati Meyer on Twitter: @ZlatiMeyer

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