Archive for the ‘satish kumar’ Category

We’ve been completely blessed with the summer so far this year, as weekend shows promoting water are no fun at all when it rains. By and large (why do people say that?) we’ve had tremendous weekend weather wherever we’ve been and the last couple of weekends have been no exception. We camped over (literally) at Hatfield House on the weekend of the 17th August and had the luxury of travelling back to homes this weekend when we did the Hampton Court Show. Pity really as we missed the chance to sample some wonderful Stowford Press cider.

We’ve taken to going indoors in the food halls or cookery demonstration halls at the shows, as folk tend to make those destination points when they visit a country show; even if they do often wander in with an overpriced bottle of warm and plastic tasting water in their hands that they’ve begrudgingly procured from some grubby ice cream van.

We’ve been giving out free tasting samples – often abused by the few at the expense of the many, as the reality is people aren’t yet completely familiar with Aquapax, which is why we’re there in the first place. (Also to promote our Best Bottled Water of 2008 win and to try and make contact with a few retail chairmen or board members having a day out with their families.) A food hall environment is not only dry when it rains outside, but it’s an area where people stay open minded and receptive to finding out more about something new and innovative. Buying a genuine high quality product at a bargain show price is also great for marketing, as people don’t like being exploited when they’re in a captive market scenario.

Hagar continues to be a real brick and the mainstay of our outdoor event management committee. I generally turn up with a car full of stock (and as much ice as my little freezer can produce) and we work the stands together, but his enthusiasm for engaging with even quite challenging potential customers has made him quite the expert on Tetra Pak recycling and indeed on the subject of water quality as well.

This weekend was a double hitter, as we also sponsored the water for the children’s’ parade at the London Notting Hill Carnival on Sunday and I was really disappointed not to have been able to get down there for a few souvenir photos of the event; our first large scale outdoor venture.

As companies grow, people take for granted a promotional give away for a few thousand people, but when you’re a small business these things cost real money and not being there to share in the atmosphere makes them somehow more expensive.

There’s something quite poetic about our 2 London events being so high profile yet so distinctly different as the Institute of Directors Annual Convention at the Royal Albert Hall and then on to the largest street party in Europe. We know our product quality spans all market segments, so it’s only appropriate that we spread our marketing budgets accordingly too.

The prize for the silly objection of this weekend goes to an unknown and rather sad faced lady who had a go at Hagar – despite his genuinely cheerful disposition – and levelled the criticism that our bottled water price is outrageous, (we weren’t selling the bottled water madam, they were the props) based on the fact that her son apparently pays just 1p for a plastic bottle of water in Dubai.  There’s no real answer to some people not getting a marketing proposition so badly, and we must try and find some more formal way to recognise their extreme reactions without causing a food fight… 🙂


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Life continues at pace with weekends whizzing into weeks and back into weekends again – a good way to tell the difference is that people smile more at the weekends…

Last weekend Hagar manned the stand (ok it’s a gazebo) at the St Mary Bourne village fete and a sunny old affair it was too. If only more villages were as community minded as the folk in St Mary Bourne, the world would be a nicer place.

They turned out in force to support their local community event in the gloriously sunny weather. It made a change to not have to explain what an Aquapax is to people as well, considering The Village Shop (run by the community for the community) is supporting our quest and selling Aquapax to thirsty residents and visitors alike. It is quite amazing how people with taste will always find a way to get hold of our wonderful water and thanks must go to Diana for the particularly amazing support she has shown for Aquapax…

Hagar had ‘the long straw’ on this occasion as I got to do store merchandising in Brighton on Saturday, followed by a long over due family BBQ on the Sunday. Both of these have potential to be a real pain, but fortunately, the BBQ went down really well and despite a lot more smoke than usual – the weather held out and the food was very tasty. My family seemed to enjoy themselves and the Brighton shopkeepers showing support were happy with their POS material promoting our recent QATRAH award win.

This weekend we’ll be making an appearance down at Newquay for the ‘Unleashed Music Festival’ in Watergate Bay – our friends at Good Mood Food will be manning the Chickpea Chariot and helping revellers quench their hunger and thirst with Aquapax and the best falafals outside of London (where they’re normally based). Falafals and water (perhaps a little wine too) it’s the only way to dance – or is that trance?

We’re also planning our mission for this year’s Cowes sailing week where we have a fabulous speedboat for the Monday and Tuesday and are hoping to tie in with a yacht to further promote Aquapax to the crowds thereafter. Aquapax is proving a hit with the sailing fraternity, as they have to take water for hydration on board their boats, but are fed up with the fact that empty plastic bottles take up as much space as full ones.

We were on board 3 of the first 4 yachts in the around Ireland race in June and should be on a few more boats for the Cowes to Madeira race taking place later in August. There’s at least one boating and marine safety retailer satisfying the demand so far and the intention is to find some more during the week ahead.

As if that all weren’t enough, the new Aquapax design (remember the guy named Tom) is coming together very nicely, thanks to him and his friends Nina and Susie, and the trip to the USA to take Aquapax over there with Robert and his boss Terry – haven’t met him, but Robert says he’s cool, is coming together with the passport office having returned my new passport today.

So it’s all looking very rosy indeed one way or another – stay tuned for further up-dates…

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I had a mailing from Datamonitor (the research people) on Thursday, offering a series of research reports, one of which is headed ‘The Cult of Celebrity’.

Their sales pitch includes the following ridiculous (imho) statement that “Voyeurism has achieved a level of acceptability and marketers need to meet consumers’ needs for accessibility and information on celebrity endorsee”.

The scope of the report apparently includes “Insights into how and why celebrity remains a powerful tool in a marketing context, along with assessments of its limitations and challenges.” And most importantly (please forgive my sarcasm) “Strategic conclusions and actionable recommendations on effectively harnessing the power of celebrity endorsement and branding”.

To me, celebrities who endorse goods for cash are often prostitutes by any other name; degrading skills or any ability they may have unworthily for incongruous personal financial gain.

To me, a product’s integrity has to be the hero and that’s the stance we’re taking. Aquapax is ‘one of the purest natural mineral waters on the planet’ – our brand communicates honestly and stands up on its own as ‘a pure thirst for the environment’ referencing its more ecologically aware package and light (carbon balanced business) footprint on the planet. Having to support an inadequate product proposition by using someone else with no real connection to the product is not somewhere I really want us to go.

SO what else happened Thursday? Well it was world environment day, but you had to look really hard to find anyone who knew… We sent out press releases full of anticipation, referencing how we’re carbon balancing our business impact and the amount of energy a carton of water saves versus an oil based plastic bottle or a pretentious glass bottle (complete waste of carbon) – generally highlighting how we’re working at making a real difference.

A baby emu made the no. 2 item on BBC national TV news on Thursday! Not only was our PR not picked up, I didn’t notice any others on the world environment day subject either. Maybe I should have dropped Mark Corbett’s recent reference to me as ‘swimming against the flow like a returning salmon’ into the press release – I like the noble analogy and that may even have caught a research assistant’s eye.

I find it quite sad – not because our genuine ecological efforts didn’t make the news; journalists appear to have moved on from a subject they don’t really understand or want to spend time researching to more familiar ‘journalistic’ territory of sensationalistic drivel. Where is the next Kate Webb? We need you to write and stir our conscience on this very real subject – not just on world environment day, but constantly, until the message gets through!

A few other things happened on Thursday – some are only shared with those who know me personally – I am SO happy (and exhausted) right now 🙂 . I also did another in-store demo at Whole Foods Market in High Street Kensington, where we had a few export enquiries from North American visitors and 2 more interesting people wanting to understand the ‘potential investment opportunity’. Who needs trade shows – people are people first and if you’re in their frame of reference, they seem to find you.

The final thing I’ll mention was the beginning of something I foresee as a potentially wonderful future with a design guy named Tom. He and his fellow designers had spotted Aquapax in the Sunday Times Style magazine – they ‘get it’ and they’ve approached us to help others ‘get it’ too. Following my intuition makes decisions relatively easy, so watch this space – we plan on helping them (& us) become famous… oh yes, when we are, I promise not to do any celebrity endorsements without all the proceeds going to charity.

Keep smiling – even a lemon tastes good after tequila.

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I watched the best part of the 11th hour (Leonardo Di Caprio) film over the weekend and have renewed admiration for the ‘actor’ who’s followed his conscience in talking about the inconvenient truth of climate change. How many people around the world have seen this shocking documentary style film and the more poignant question, how many people around the world have heard its message?

‘Padling our canoe’ as I’ve previously described our intention to change the bottled water market away from its blind acceptance of polluting oil based plastic bottles and seriously carbon intensive glass bottles, to a more sensible and ecologically pragmatic paper carton (AQUAPAX), is a challenging task – but nothing compared to the mantle young Leonardo has raised his game to take on.

Admitted he’s a touch more famous than me, but hats off to the boy, he’s opted for the proverbial ‘road less travelled’ and he’s making a cracking job of it.

Pondering on the very real ‘ecological awareness’ message getting through, I met with Phil over at Impression Sailing & Events today and while I didn’t ask if he’d seen the film, his honest understanding of what we’re doing as a business and his sincere readiness to support an initiative he believes in, irrespective of its direct commercial return to his thriving business, shows true leadership in his field. Interestingly, ‘Impression Events’ have no grandiose environmental statements, nor ethical statements or privacy statements designed to satisfy the need for politically correct benchmarks, yet they walk the walk. That counts a great deal in my book and I’m proud to put a link to their site from our links page. Besides that, their pure passion for what they do is a pleasure to read and I urge anyone looking to ‘go sailing’ to look them up beforehand.

Regular readers of my blog will know I’ve previously cited the example of Enrons 64 page code of ethics document and what a mockery that company made of the whole subject. That’s not to say the rank and file Enron employees didn’t believe, but it sure as heck shows their board hadn’t bothered to read what they signed up to. Funnily enough, I’ve met with a few other companies this month and a similar thought crossed my mind regarding how much of their own words their representatives have read and/or believe in.

Employing public facing staff – now that’s a real 11th hour decision for any growing business (sorry Leonardo) – no intention to trivialise the important subject I started on, but representing a business is clearly about more than words on a website and businesses need to be more consistent about using words they believe in, and/or employing staff who speak of things as they really are…

Stay positive – I know there’s still a lot of good people out there – I met a number of them on Friday doing a demo at the John Lewis food hall in Oxford Street – but that’s a blog for another day!


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I read a great review of the Tetra Pak carbon balancing programme on another blog this week (here’s the link) which got me thinking of where our carbon balancing contributions are spent.

There seems to be a number of dubious operators out there running carbon offsetting schemes (scams?) and because we didn’t understand too much about the mechanics, we chose an ethical junction member as our partners. Can’t go wrong with an ethical junction member – that’s our experience anyway…

The description of the Tetra Pak carbon offset programme link above is particularly well written, so rather than abbreviate or exaggerate, here’s a pasted extract of where and how our carbon balanced business dues are being spent on 2 particular compensation projects, by our friends at CLEVEL – the ethical carbon balancing entity…

RAINFOREST RESTORATION – CLEVEL’s carbon compensation project in Uganda is replanting deforested zones within key national parks to deliver certified CO2 uptake and full restoration of vital ecosystems.

Ugandan planting sites are managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in partnership with the FACE Foundation and are located in the Kibale and Mount Elgon national parks. UWA was established in 1996 to conserve and manage the wildlife and protected areas of Uganda, in partnership with neighbouring communities and stakeholders, for the benefit of the people of Uganda and the global community. You can read more about this project here.

The other is the UPESI PROJECT to provide ‘energy technology’ compensation through the making and use of efficient cooking stoves. The project concentrates on cooking stoves made by pottery cooperatives, that reduce fuelwood use and indoor smoke pollution.

It is underway in Kenya, with International Charity Practical Action – founded in 1966, as ITDG (the Intermediate Technology Development Group), by Dr EF Schumacher to prove that his philosophy of ‘Small is Beautiful’ could bring real and sustainable improvements to people’s lives.

Practical Action aims to demonstrate and advocate the sustainable use of technology to reduce poverty. I’m sure that anyone whose read this far will want to know the whole story, so here’s the link showing how they are also running programmes specifically to assist those most affected by climate change impact in the majority world.

Remember what I said about Aquapax being guilt free and good for you and your baby too. “small is beautiful” – makes you think doesn’t it?
Happy Easter

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My tooth abcess appears to have calmed down – whether that was the single malt or the antiobiotics is still debatable – the ‘malt’ was for medicinal purposes – I promise…  Anyway, we had the workshop I was preparing my ‘elevator pitch’ for and it was really constructive to get honest and objective feedback from an independent group, on what I previously perceived as a reasonably well defined paragraph to describe our business.

People who listen but don’t have the same personal commitment are the only ones who can be objective and that’s why getting advice from others is so very helpful.

In any case, their core advice was to lose all the technical stuff about Aquapax water quality and to concentrate on the ecologically aware paper packaging innovation – kind of makes sense really, as that way we have something else to shout about whenever a competitor turns up with their ‘me too’ version of our Aquapax.

So, following the feedback, this is our new elevator pitch: –

At Just Drinking Water, we produce and market Aquapax pure natural mineral water packaged inside protective paper cartons. Aquapax water cartons come from sustainable and renewable forests; plastic water bottles come from declining and unsustainable oil reserves.  Aquapax are carbon balanced – guilt free and good for you and your baby too.

The fact that we hate plastic bottles so much we did something about it still seems of more interest to people at a human level, but this way, if I do meet my fantasy elevator buddy – the person who can most help us to make a difference – I’ll be prepared…

ps. Distribution continues to grow positively following our recent exhibitions and we’re getting more direct enquiries to refer on to retail partners too – keep a look out for Aquapax in a store near you very soon; it won’t be long now (in the words of the song)!

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Following Lucy Siegle’s feature article in the Observer at the weekend, the BBC One Panorama programme next week will feature an expose on the ecological devastation of the bottled water industry and (shock horror) the fact that plastic bottles are made from oil and we don’t recycle them all.

We’ve been spreading the word of our wonderfully pure water for 15 months now and distribution of ‘Aquapax’ (in paper cartons) is growing steadily among ecologically aware and quality conscious independent minded retailers.

NB. Reminder of the features and benefits summarised in the attached leaflet.
The week ahead can be the tipping point to help create change in the whole bottled water industry – if we can get the word out to a wider audience.

If it’s not in your current sphere of responsibility, but you know a relevant ethical/eco/enviro/green business/lifestyle journalist personally, please forward a link to this message. This is a one off request to help us communicate Aquapax as the (only) real alternative to portable bottled water, at this time of heightened media awareness and attention.

What’s wrong with tap water I hear you say – absolutely nothing has always been my message; except it’s not portable and you can’t change a multi billion pound market without giving consumers an alternative – fizzy drinks don’t cut it any more and bottled water is becoming passe’!

I do hope you can help and shan’t hold it against you if you can’t.

Warm regards for another bright day ahead…

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