Letters: Muddy waters

I fear that your article on DDB Needham's new campaign for Evian ('DDB set to unveil first Evian creative) in the March 20 issue may have muddied the waters somewhat.In his desire to use the 'Fish Named Wanda' billboard as a...

I fear that your article on DDB Needham’s new campaign for Evian (‘DDB set to unveil first Evian creative) in the March 20 issue may have muddied the waters somewhat.

In his desire to use the ‘Fish Named Wanda’ billboard as a frame of reference, I believe your correspondent may have portrayed me as something of a pisciphobe.

While I respect and admire Harrod & Mirlin’s billboard, my point was simply that that one billboard, despite its many awards, did not singlehandedly build the Evian business in Canada.

It was but one of many diverse pieces with various executional styles and numerous creative focuses.

DDB Needham’s belief while developing the new work was that we should consistently focus on the French Alps as the great differentiator for Evian.

So we developed the ‘Mountain Comes to You’ campaign, replete with its Evianesque depiction of the Alps, designed by art director Darcy Maloney.

Evian is a premium brand. We believe it’s no longer necessary to portray Evian as preferable to tap water.

Having said that, my regards to Wanda. May she steer clear of Spanish trawlers.

Kurt Hagan

Senior Vice-President

Executive Creative Director

DDB Needham Worldwide

Toronto

Even muddier

Re: ‘DDB set to unveil first Evian creative’ in the March 20 issue.

Losing the Evian business to DDB Needham after a wonderful six-year association with a great brand and great friends on both sides of the Atlantic was a sad day for our agency.

But what can you do about worldwide alignments? C’est la vie.

I was delighted to read that Kurt Hagen has ‘great respect’ for the ads we created for Evian over the years.

But I was flabbergasted to read that he thinks the ads didn’t ‘accomplish much in the way of building the brand.’

Mr. Hagen is entitled to his subjective creative assessment of our work’s impact on Evian’s business over the years. The facts, however, prove him wrong.

Evian was a relatively small player in the Canadian bottled water market, with most of its sales concentrated in Quebec, when we were awarded the business in 1988.

There had been little or no advertising, and awareness levels were relatively low. Seven years later, Evian is the leading brand of premium still water.

Brand awareness levels are consistent with its leadership position. And, in what is becoming a commodity category, Evian occupies a very unique niche and commands a premium price.

I find it ironic that the same article which quotes ddb’s creative director also states that ‘Evian accounted for more than half of sales in the flat bottled water category and enjoys an awareness of over 90% among bottled water drinkers.’

I would never claim that advertising alone was responsible for Evian’s phenomenal growth. But it most definitely was a key driver along with the efforts of one of the most resourceful and creative sales and marketing groups I have ever worked with.

Kurt Hagen also claims that ‘ a lot of people who liked Wanda the Fish were not Evian drinkers.’

I’ll only say that Antoine Riboud, the Groupe Danone’s chairman, has a copy of the poster hanging in his Paris office.

And, last I heard, he still drinks (and sells) a lot of it.

Eric Blais

Vice-President

Director of Strategic Planning

Harrod & Mirlin

Toronto