Stupid Marketing Watch: Dumbest Free Sample Ever

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

Going through the checkout line at a Manhattan supermarket the other day, I received what has to be one of the stupidest free samples ever—a tiny bottle of water.

“Jana, natural European artesian water, bottled at source St. Jana,” said the label.

“Jana Natural Artesian Water is freely flowing for over 3,000 years from its pristine source, located 2,500 feet below the Earth’s surface, by the Adriatic Sea,” the label continued.

Over 3,000 years? Why not 10,000? Heck, why not go whole hog and say 6 million? Who’s going to call them on it?

Oh, and get this: The bottle had a best-by date on it, as in: “Best by 15 Jul 09.”

Are they kidding with this? What is in a bottle of water that could possibly go bad? And why didn’t the folks at Jana go all the way and include a “please-refrigerate-after-opening” warning? Oh, of course, that would be stupid.

In any case, guess what Jana tasted just like … water. Good, old-fashioned, could-have-come-from-anywhere water.

I realize I’m far from the first to point this out, but bottled water is the biggest sucker’s game ever invented. Granted, there are homes that need to import their water because of too much sulfur or other contaminants, but most bottled-water purchases aimed at taking advantage of anything beyond the convenience of the containers are pointless wastes of money.

And now we have Jana taking the bottled-water sucker’s game one step further by offering free samples of a product that tastes exactly like that of all its competitors, and putting an expiration date on it.

Thing is, we all know there are a bunch of people out there who will buy into this nonsense.

The irrationality of too many bottled-water drinkers was illustrated beautifully a while back by a guest—a soon-to-be-ex-husband of a friend—my wife and I had at our home in the Catskill Mountains: He refused to drink our well water, stuff straight from the mountain springs of upstate New York that comes out of the tap so cold even in August it makes the glass sweat.

Nope, nothing but bottled water for him.

“It’s right off the mountain!” said my wife incredulously. “Hell,” she said correcting herself, “it hasn’t even had a chance to leave the mountain!”

Oh well.

We haven’t seen “William” ever since our friend gave him a much-deserved heave ho, but chances are he’s swooning over a tiny free-sample bottle of Jana right now.


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