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Poland Spring, you blew your Oreo moment

It’s pretty safe to assume that anyone who had never heard of Poland Spring water before today knows about it now.

scott-kleinberg-oreo-poland-springSay what you will about Sen. Marco Rubio’s need to quench his thirst as he delivered the Republican response Tuesday night. Yes, it was painfully awkward as he reached off camera for that little bottle. But that little bottle was a moment the Poland Spring company will never forget. Talk about your free advertising!

Social media had a field day with it. First, we all (myself included) had to flush the looping video of Rubio drinking out of our systems. Then we had to start looking for other angles to focus on. The angle that’s getting the most play is how Poland Spring responded.

You know the quiet peaceful sound of nothing a spring makes as it flows naturally along a hillside? Yeah, that pretty much describes Poland Spring’s Twitter response. In fact, Poland Spring hadn’t – and still hasn’t – tweeted since January 2011. Other reports say its last tweet was July 2010, but the company actually changed its Twitter handle and then abandoned it again.

Had this event not happened so soon after the Super Bowl, we probably wouldn’t see so many comparisons to how Oreo handled itself during the blackout. That night was a social media touchdown for Oreo, where a fantastic creative team combined with an amazingly on the ball social and PR team created a decent response that resulted in fantastic buzz.


But that night wasn’t about Oreo. The company just made the most of a perfect opportunity. Last night was about Poland Spring. And while not making a splash in social isn’t going to ruin the company, I have no doubt that the marketing team is kicking themselves for not doing more. Clearly, that’s a company without a social team so it might want to consider adding that for any future thirsty politicians.

My colleague at the Chicago Tribune Rob Manker, who wrote a piece about what Rubio’s water moment will mean for him down the road, spoke to Jane Lazgin, spokesperson, for Nestle Waters North America, parent company of Poland Spring. I found what she said about social media to be quite upsetting.

Here is what Lazgin said about the lack of Twitter activity:

“We know that there have been tweets (by others about Poland Spring). We’re not tweeting, but we know that there have been tweets. We’re monitoring those.”

You’re monitoring those? Good for you. But if there are tweets, that means you should be on Twitter. There’s very little excuse to not know that in 2013.

Manker asked Lazgin if they have a plan in place to capitalize on these situations. She called this a “pretty spontaneous, impromptu thing.” And while that’s true, it’s not answering the question. She went on to say “We communicate through social media through Facebook. That’s where we’ve really invested our resources.”

After reading that, I need to splash some water on my face.

Poland Spring made one attempt, and while they get a few points for the effort, it didn’t really go over too well. The company posted a photo of a bottle of  water looking in a mirror with the caption “Reflecting on our cameo. What a night!” While it’s not the worst thing they could have done, there were a few things wrong. First, it was posted more than 12 hours after Rubio’s speech which in the digital age is equivalent to six months. Second, it didn’t take into account the people who are not Rubio fans. Basking in the glow of a controversial Republican didn’t sit well with commenters on the Facebook page. And the Photoshop purists had to point out the reflection isn’t done correctly.

So where do we leave this?

Simple. Brands ALWAYS need to be prepared for this kind of moment. I realize there was no way Poland Spring could tell it would be the preferred water of Marco Rubio, a good social plan will help you react. Just as you need a crisis plan when all hell breaks loose, you need a plan for when good things happen. I have a very bad feeling no one on the Poland Spring marketing team knew the password to their Twitter account. (Pssst! It’s h2o)

If a plan was in place, a tweet would have been sent. And a Facebook post of some sort would have gone up while the speech was still being delivered. Then, you work through the night and create a Facebook app where you can take a photo of yourself in the place of Rubio, something you can share with your friends.

The fact that Lazgin admits that Poland Spring is aware of tweets but doesn’t tweet is very much like saying that you’ve heard your stomach growl and are aware food exists to make it stop, but you don’t eat. Clearly, customers are on Twitter talking about the brand. You can’t address those customers on Facebook because there’s a completely different user base. It’s the same reason I tell everyone never to link Twitter and Facebook accounts because you aren’t talking to the same people.

Next time, Poland Spring will be ready. And Rubio will always have a drink within easy reach. If this guy ever runs for president, this isn’t the last we’ll see of that water bottle.

About Scott Kleinberg

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One comment

  1. The title of this post really should be, “Nestle, you blew your Oreo moment” as Poland Spring was engulfed by the global food giant years ago. And where they may have blown their “moment” it probably will have little impact on their bottom line – as Nestle owns just about every major brand of bottled water, and with its ever growing demand, they will still make lots of money.

    But it does speak to a lot about what their marketing – and their products – are all about.