Crystal’s barter idea a big hit

As the recession drags on with no end in sight, many businesses find the most they can do is just keep their heads above water.But at least one Ontario firm has rediscovered an old way to add buoyancy to its bottom...

As the recession drags on with no end in sight, many businesses find the most they can do is just keep their heads above water.

But at least one Ontario firm has rediscovered an old way to add buoyancy to its bottom line.

Exchange

Crystal Springs, of Mississauga, Ont., has launched a barter program, targetting media companies and promotions houses that might be interested in exchanging advertising space and creative services for bottled water.

Terry Drayton, president of Crystal Springs, says the barter program, which has been in place for six months – ever since Drayton and a group of investors bought Crystal Springs from Nestle Canada – has been hugely successful.

‘We’re just hoping that not too many of our competitors catch on to it,’ Drayton says. ‘It’s been that good for us.’

Crystal Springs is a regional Ontario bottled water company with the lion’s share of the Ontario market for distilled and spring water products.

Companies

Among the Toronto companies with which it has entered barter agreements are: chum radio in Toronto; C B Media, publisher of Canadian Business and Profit magazines; Hook Outdoor Advertising, a division of Vancouver’s The Jim Pattison Group; and Homes Plus Network, a division of Rogers Cablesystems.

Doreen Downie of Toronto’s Downie Advertising and Public Relations, the firm responsible for running the program, says a number of other companies have joined the barter program, but she declines to name them because they have not given her permission to do so.

Says Downie: ‘I don’t know if it is the economic climate of the day or what, but everyone is looking for deals.’

She says she hopes to generate as much as $300,000 worth of media, which will be placed in a war chest to cover Crystal Springs’ 1993 media buy.

Crystal Springs will be 30 years old in 1993, and it plans to celebrate that milestone with a splashy ad campaign, involving tv, radio, print and outdoor.

The company’s 1992 ad budget is about $200,000, but Drayton says he will spend between $500,000 and $750,000 in 1993.

Redesigned package

In addition to focussing on the 30th anniversary, the 1993 campaign will introduce the company’s recently redesigned package graphics, created by Toronto’s Craib Graphics.

And it will launch Crystal Springs’ first carbonated product, Crystal Springs Carbonated, which begins shipping out to stores this month.

Drayton says he wants to use the 30th anniversary, and the fact that Crystal Springs is a Canadian company, to appeal to distributors and consumers to give his products a try.

Crystal Springs is owned by Aquaterra, also of Mississauga.

Aquaterra was formed this spring to buy Crystal Springs and Labrador Springs (the largest bottled water firm in Quebec) from Nestle.

Labrador

Crystal Springs does most of its business in Ontario, while Labrador Springs, which markets distilled and spring water products and is about to launch its own carbonated product, Labrador Springs Carbonated, does most of its business in Quebec.

But Drayton says Aquaterra has bold ambitions to expand into other provinces and other countries.

Last month, Crystal Springs signed a $100,000 contract with Mexico that will see the introduction of a new spring water brand, Northern Springs, into Mexican WalMart and Price Club outlets.

Drayton says u.s. distribution of Northern Springs is set to follow in the not-too-distant future.