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A curious case

November 22, 2012


Next time you see one, pick up a bottle of Vittel water and look at the packaging. Something is a bit strange…
In case you don’t have one to hand, have a look at the photo at the top of this post. On the side of the bottle you’ll find a badge that reads ‘Official Supplier to the Flora London Marathon’.
Runners with a keen memory – or access to the Internet – will note that Flora’s sponsorship of the marathon ended in 2009.
Strange, I thought. Nestlé Pure Life is now the water supplier of the Virgin London Marathon. Perhaps this was just a case of competitive bragging to try to get a bit more market share.
Except Nestlé also own Vittel.
Businesses like Nestlé spend a fortune on packaging and promotion of their products. Could this just be an oversight? A legacy claim that no one remembers making, so they haven’t remembered to correct once the situation changed? Or did someone think that this tiny piece of product real estate could increase sales?
More to the point, who reads the side of a water bottle? What kind of anal nerd looks up the sponsorship history of a race based on reading the side of a bottle of water? What kind of corporate conspiracy theorist would assume there was a hidden agenda behind a quirk of packaging? Jeez, I need to get out more…

Update 23 November 2013
Okay, so I didn’t get out. Like the irritating pedant I am, I got in touch with Nestlé to ask them about the issue.
And you know what? They only ruddy well got back to me…

Hi Lewis,
Thanks for your email about the label on Vittel. Vittel stopped sponsoring the London Marathon in 2008. It is now sponsored by other our other water brand Nestle Pure life.

There must be some old labels in circulation – thanks for bringing this to my attention, we will get this removed, and ensure all labels going forward are correct.


No one had noticed for four years?! Now, I don’t doubt that someone else would have noticed this and just got on with their lives rather than emailing to ask a stupid question.
Kind of makes you wonder how effective some of the detail on packaging really is, though. Particularly when you’ve got a product that is – with the greatest respect to Nestlé – interchangeable with any other bottled water.
Still, next time you see a bottle of Vittel, check out whether it has a Flora London Marathon label. If it doesn’t, I’m going to claim that as my handiwork. If it does, let’s just assume the reprinted packaging is on its way…

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