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08/07/00 - Water, Water Everywhere

It'd be hard to find a more literal example of drowning a brand's identity than these two bottled water ads.

No matter who came first, their similarity is sure to dilute their personalities in the minds of consumers.

The Evian mermaid ad is from a postcard found on a rack in a trendy Chicago restaurant. The Dannon ad is a billboard posted right next to a firehouse (how appropriate). And, unlike billboards cited in previous installments, it works well with the medium.

On the flip side of the mermaid postcard, the campaign's concept is stated in fine print, "Savored by water connoisseurs everywhere." Certainly a nice, though fanciful, endorsement.

According to an article by Amsterdam Ad Maven, DaBitch at ad-rag.com, Evian can lay claim to the campaign concept all the way back to 1991. In fact, it's in the Canadian Billboard Hall of Fame.

Besides nice art direction, this image certainly ads flavor to its tasteless product with erotic touches like the mermaid's belly button and suggestive lip action on the bottle.

Dannon refuses to engage the mermaid in a navel battle. Their twist on Evian's ad is casting a wholesome, all American girl and throwing her in a pool. In fact, they've gone so far as to avoid any hint of breasts on their kooky gal. Perhaps that's their strategy--pure, asexual water and a model to match.

For some marketing geniuses, a minute distinction like this is enough to justify cloning the competition's advertising.

Or maybe the objective was simply to sink Evian by creating market confusion.

Ironically, it appears Dannon was so busy coming up with an execution that would sanitize Evian's sexy mermaid, that they completely forgot what the underlying concept of the ad was. Their Miss Teen America isn't exactly a water connoisseur like a fish or mermaid. So what's Dannon trying to say?

Perhaps they don't know. All that water may have just gone to their heads.