Why Democrats Will Love Icelandic Water Brand's New Ads

Spots From Icelandic Glacial Take Progressive Tone With References to Hillary Clinton and Trump's Wall

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Just in time for next week's Democratic convention, a bottled water brand from Iceland is out with a couple of ads that progressives are sure to love.

Icelandic Glacial seems to plug Hillary Clinton in one spot by reminding Americans that when it comes to electing female presidents, the Nordic nation was way ahead of the curve. Another ad appears to take a subtle jab at Donald Trump and his call for building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. "In Iceland, the only walls we see tend to be glacial in nature," the spot declares, adding that "then again, us Icelanders are considered to be among the friendliest people in the world."

The kicker for both ads: "Hmm, it must be something in the water."

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Do the ads mean the imported brand is positioning itself to be the bottled water for Democrats? Not exactly, said Ali Whitaker, Icelandic's marketing manager."We definitely are not out to upset anyone on the right by any means," she said. "We are definitely not out to ruffle anyone's feathers. I know it might look that way a little bit but we really wanted to just kind of have fun with it."

Icelandic print ads
Icelandic print ads  Credit: Icelandic

The agency behind the campaign is Bush Renz of Miami, which recently started working for the brand. Ads will run online and get paid digital support. "After researching Icelanders for only a short time for the brand, we quickly realized that there is something going on in Iceland. Icelanders live the longest, are voted the happiest and safest, have the highest literacy rates, they elected the world's first woman president, and the list goes on. Immediately we thought, 'Wow, there must be something in the water over there,'" Gerard Bush, the shop's chief creative director, said in a statement.

Iceland elected Vigdís Finnbogadóttir president in 1980 when she became the first woman in the world elected as head of state in a national election, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

The brand also plans to hand samples out next week outside of the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, including to protesters. But the brand won't discriminate -- the water will be available to everyone, no matter what cause they are supporting. "We want to bring the cheer. We want to bring the good feel from Iceland," Ms. Whitaker said.

The campaign's progressive tone will be extended with other social media messages. One planned post notes that Iceland's Johanna Siguroardottir in 2009 became the first openly LGBT person to head a national government. But other messages are more trivial, like a planned post noting that Icelanders have won eight World's Strongest Man titles.

"We are really just attempting to convey the brand's superlative Icelandic roots," Ms. Whitaker said.

The premium water brand is sourced from Iceland's Olfus Spring, which was "formed more than 5,000 years ago and is shielded from pollution by an impenetrable barrier of lava rock," according to the brand's website. The brand also touts itself as "the world's first certified carbon neutral natural spring bottled water for product and operation."

Icelandic's founder is Jon Olafsson, an entrepreneur who is known as the 'Richard Branson of Iceland." He began his career in music and films and founded media company Northern Lights Communications, which he sold in 2003. He founded Icelandic Water Holdings in 2004 with his son, Kristjan Olafsson. The brand came to the U.S. in 2005. It got a boost in 2007 when Anheuser-Busch signed on as the brand's master distributor, while taking a 20% equity interest in Icelandic Water Holdings. In 2012 the brand partnered with Christian Dior for the launch of Diorsnow, a line of skin-whitening beauty products that are infused with Icelandic Glacial water.

The bottled water brand remains relatively small: It does not appear on a list of the top 22 bottled water brands by market share from Euromonitor International. Premium bottled water competitor Fiji ranked 10th with 1.9% share as of 2015, according to Euromonitor. But Icelandic keeps growing its distribution footprint. The brand last year announced new deals with Vons and Pavillions stores in California and Nevada, which came on the heels of deals with East Coast outlets including Fairway Markets and Duane Reade.

The deals come as the bottled water category continues to surge. Category volume grew 8% in 2015 as per capita consumption reached a new peak of 36.5 gallons, according to Beverage Marketing Corp. Bottled water -- which ranks as the No. 2 beverage category -- "could surpass carbonated soft drinks to take the top spot in the very near future," Beverage Marketing Corp stated in June.

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