This summer, there is a new refreshing packaged drink in city, at least in my city of Chicago. The labels are vibrant and flashy, the advertising and marketing strategies glance like they have been established by social media influencers, and the name is, very well, exceptional. It’s known as Chicagwa. It’s canned water, and it’s fully missing the place.
What is Chicagwa?
I’ll let the assertion that I received from Chicago’s Division of H2o Administration speak for by itself:
Chicagwa, a new branding marketing campaign from the Metropolis of Chicago, seeks to convey consciousness to Chicago’s proximity to – and rich historical past with – one of the major bodies of refreshing h2o in the earth. The name Chicagwa combines the phrases “Chicago” and “water” to develop a drinking water brand that also highlights the nearly 750 million gallons of drinking water that the Chicago Section of Water Management procedures each and every working day. On top of that, the title references both equally the Spanish phrase for h2o and the Miami-Illinois word “shikaakwa” from which the City’s identify is derived.
TLDR: it’s Chicago tap h2o in a can. The h2o was canned by Chicago-primarily based Wonderful Central Brewing Enterprise and arrives in six diverse cans, each and every intended by a various nearby artist.
“You do not will need extravagant bottled water from Fiji or a Scandinavian glacier – not when the Department of H2o Administration cautiously processes and purifies our ingesting h2o so it is fantastic straight from the faucet,” a assertion from reps of the Section of Water Management reads. “The marketing campaign amplifies how Lake Michigan is our past, present, and potential. We should do what we can to preserve the useful resource so that residents can remain ‘Chidrated’ for many years to come.”
Nothe place in the responses to my inquiries did the metropolis point out why Lake Michigan quickly essential this positive PR spin. Did the lake tweet something lousy I did not see? I can only think the campaign aims to get awesome details for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot as she prepares for her re-election campaign. But in the end, Chicagwa was a missed chance to increase recognition and, I really do not know, in fact do some thing to make a city’s drinking drinking water extra available to all people.
How Chicagwa misses the mark
When I requested the city how they had been performing to tackle the affect of guide lines on the city’s consuming drinking water, they sent back this incredibly PR response:
The Division of Water Management is functioning intently with Town Hall to acquire a thorough, sustainable and equitable system which leverages the historic investment decision in infrastructure modernization to deal with this citywide legacy difficulty.
Chicagwa’s web page explains in depth how the drinking water is pulled from Lake Michigan and purified. The description, however, appears to be to skim above the part in which that purified water have to basically be sent by way of pipes to people’s taps and the hurdles it faces alongside the way. Chicagwa could have been an awareness campaign for the town to own its shit, one thing together the lines of: “Yes, we are aware of the lead difficulties, so we’re canning this drinking water just before it hits the pipes, and we’ll hand it out for free of charge though we determine it out.”
These cans of h2o in Chicago are not even remaining made use of to help the city’s population that could not have access to a operating tap—yes, they are free of charge, but they’re staying stocked in areas like dining establishments and markets that unhoused folks are unlikely to patronize. A single of the images on Chicagwa’s Instagram web page reveals Chicago Police Office officers making the most of the things, if that presents you an concept of the target demographic.
I would have even purchased Chicagwa as a conservation marketing campaign: our lake is so amazing, so let us not pollute it, let us clean up up the beaches, let us make guaranteed ingesting h2o doesn’t turn out to be a constrained source! In its place, the site’s “What It Signifies To Us” website page talks about how “water is our foreseeable future,” outlining, “While other h2o sources are drying up, we’re snuggled up future to a big freshwater lake that isn’t heading any place. It has held us hydrated because the beginning, and it’s major sufficient to maintain us and our neighboring suburban good friends Chidrated for really a great deal often.”
The city is essentially admitting that promoting canned drinking water is one big brag about how we’ll be capable to be hydrated permanently. It’s messaging that spits in the experience of Chicago’s Midwestern neighbors around in Flint, Michigan, exactly where the h2o crisis has been ongoing considering that 2014.
Obtain to harmless-to-consume and even protected-to-touch water is a continuing global disaster. In accordance to Drinking water.org, 1 in 10 folks absence access to harmless drinking water. I’m all for novelty objects, for praise of Lake Michigan, even for exploring diverse vessels in which to give h2o to other individuals, outside of plastic bottles. But to do so with insensitive messaging all around an situation that affects so numerous is not only a skipped opportunity, but a quite heinous act.
Corporations like H2o.org, the United States Drinking water Alliance, the Clean up Drinking water Fund, and several many more are operating to get water to every person and educating individuals on how accessibility to clear h2o and preserving our drinking water offer fits into the much larger fight in the worldwide local climate disaster. Partnering with any a person of them on a undertaking about Lake Michigan (and everything else to do with the h2o supply) would be a fantastic phase for the metropolis to demonstrate it cares. Right until then, Chicagwa will remain an vacant, complicated PR stunt.