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SoBe’s REALLY Weird Floating Plastic Bottle Ad, aka #TheyJustDon’tGetIt

Posted on: 7 Comments

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This morning I was checking the 5 Gyres Facebook account and a Facebook ad caught my eye (I know, I’m like the only person these work on).  It depicted a SoBe plastic juice bottle with a note telling me ‘to send a message in a bottle for a chance to win a Hawaiian vacation.’ At first, I thought they were actually advocating for people to throw plastic bottles into the ocean.  BUT, when I clicked on the site, I saw that this was actually all virtual. Whew.

But how freaking WEIRD!!!

How odd and insensitive a choice it is to use plastic pollution in the ocean portrayed in a positive, paradise like fashion!!???!! It’s almost laughable to me that no one in the board room caught it???  I mean, it’s not like any animals are being killed, but hey, it’s a really, really, really a strange choice for marketing your brand.

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Do they just not get it?  Does SoBe and Pepsi (their parent company) think all of us plastic nerds are just huffing and puffing?  That we’re overblowing an issue?  Or do they really just not think enough about the issue to care about it.

My guess is the latter–still, typically a publicly traded company tries to avoid anything that makes them look like they don’t give a crap about the environment or too thick to recognize that their ads appear to say as such.  I mean, check it out! IT’s ridiculous!  And it sure looks like they spent a pretty huge amount of money to make plastic in the ocean look appealing.

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I read somewhere that SoBe used creative agencies differently that other brands–that they consult with them, but ultimately have in house marketing teams decide on content.  Well, SoBe, sometimes it might be a good idea to look outside your window and see what’s actually going on in the world before dumping a bunch of cash into an ad campaign like this.  What saddens me is this–if no one is catching that this ad campaign was a dumb idea, it means we as activists need to turn the volume up.  Like a lot. Like a lot a lot a lot.

Oh, by the way Sobe, any chance we can get you to go back to glass bottles too?

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7 Responses

  1. Douglas Nolan says:

    i refuse to buy any drinks in single use plastic i only purchase glass or aluminium cans. And i encourage everyone to concider. This is a choice that can make a big difference.

  2. I used to buy Sobe drinks because it was one of the only drinks sold in glass bottles. They don’t any more, so I don’t buy them anymore.

  3. Peggy Gilges says:

    The beverage giants regularly contribute money to NGOs that are trying to bring awareness to environmental issues (I’m thinking of WWF or Ocean Conservancy). But to see advertising like SoBe’s seems a tip off that corporate interest in the work of the NGOs may be extremely superficial.
    If executives, board members or shareholders took plastic pollution seriously, wouldn’t they make or accept changes that they have been trying to prevent (I’m thinking of things like reusable packaging, beverage container deposits)? Unfortunately, it causes me to wonder if donations to NGOs are really just a way to prolong business as usual.

    • Stiv Wilson says:

      Hi Peggy:

      I think the issue is that a lot of the contributions from beverage are going to NGOs without policy initiatives and thus, they’re safe to contribute to from a marketing standpoint. 5 Gyres isn’t a nonprofit that would accept money from these entities, as it’s not what our community would want and it’s important for us to maintain our credibility. Yes, it’s uncanny that the single biggest thing the beverage industry could do to promote recycling and stop oceanic plastic bottle pollution would be to support an national container deposit bill. We’re working on this. Thanks for your insights.

  4. Thank you for writing about this and bringing to our attention! I live on the northern coast of FL and am surrounded by plastic beaches. As a recent transplant from San Diego, I have been truly appalled at the ignorance of a majority of the members of local communities when it comes to plastic pollution. Apparently leaving Gatorade and Sobe bottles on the beach is just a way of life here. Sad but true. Until we can truly find an biodegradable solution to plastic, we are up a creek!

  5. [...] Wilson was horrified. “At first, I thought they were actually advocating for people to throw plastic bottles into the ocean,” Wilson wrote in a 5 Gyres blog, partially entitled “#TheyJustDon’tGetIt.” [...]

  6. [...] Wilson was horrified. “At first, I thought they were actually advocating for people to throw plastic bottles into the ocean,” Wilson wrote in a 5 Gyres blog, partially entitled “#TheyJustDon’tGetIt.” [...]

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