[Montreal] Italian food group Parmalat is trying to develop a global mineral-water brand starting in North America with its new Canada-produced Esker Natural Spring Water. "We want Esker to eventually be generic, to be synonymous with bottled water in the way that Coca-Cola is synonymous with soft drinks," said Howard Bateman, Parmalat's VP marketing. Parmalat's strategy is to educate consumers that an "esker" is an ancient geological formation created when rivers of melting glacial ice filtered through rocks and sand to flow deep underground. The selling point is that esker water is pure and untouched by humans. Mr. Bateman said Parmalat will spend more than $10 million to market Esker in the western U.S. this year before rolling out to the rest of the U.S., a $4 billion bottled water market. This fall, tests in Singapore and Mexico will determine whether the next continent is Asia or Latin America.
TV, radio and point-of-purchase ads are breaking in the U.S. from Parmalat's Toronto agency Goodgoll Curtis. Spots with the tagline "Water like no other" carry simple messages like "Have you ever tasted water from an esker?"