Sherri Winans
Whatcom Community College
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Crystal Smith
English 101
Essay 2: Advertising
April 2006

Promoting Propel
 

Advertising: It's not just show and tell.  In effect, it's a form of behavior modification, a psychological strategy designed not only to inform you about products but to persuade you to buy them by making associations between the product and certain pleasurable experiences that may have nothing to do with the product at all....  (Maasik and Solomon 141)
 

I have discovered some exciting things about water and all of its functions. There is more to it than just the necessary hydration that it provides for our regeneration. We use water while cleaning our homes, washing our clothes, and taking showers. We also use water for play. We play in our swimming pools and have water balloon fights. We run through our lawn sprinklers. We sail our boats, surf with our surfboards, and ski at extreme speeds on the ocean. We also prefer to drink it in bottles. But what brand?! What flavor?! How will I choose?!  How about the kind that I saw on the commercial on television that has the big fruit, or the one that has people who are drops of water?

The supermarkets are filled with a variety of brands of bottled water. They package their products basically the same; however, they advertise their products very differently. These companies must do something to entice the shopper, or he/she will grab whatever water is convenient. Why should we purchase one bottle over another? Fancy packaging, taste, added flavor, climate from which it originates, and price may be a deciding factor. We may be completely visual people and just buy what is familiar to us.  

The brand that catches my attention is Propel Fitness Water. Their ads typically focus on the fun and energetic side of the bottled water by making them exciting and full of constant motion. You can’t look away or you’ll miss what will come next. There are so many methods of marketing water, and Propel has done a wonderful job in the imagination category. They even use the various flavors of their product within their advertising schemes. For instance; they change a lemon into a tennis ball, and strawberries into a mountain. How fun is this?! Propel markets seven flavors of water: Melon, Berry, Black Cherry, Lemon, Kiwi-Strawberry, Peach, Grape, and Tropical Citrus. Propel Fitness Water has been a product of Gatorade since 2002 (Propel).

I like the fun and creativity within their commercials. They focus on promoting their product with energy. It’s not only Propel Fitness Water that is being sold to the consumer; I believe they are also selling power. Power to motivate our spirits, as well as our healthy lifestyle, is recognizable in this unique style of marketing. This occurred to me while perusing an ad in Men’s Health Magazine and watching a few commercials.

One of these commercials focuses on the calcium that is added to the water. This will be of interest to those women concerned with bone loss. This television commercial shows a woman enclosed in a drop of water; she is about to fall out of an upside down bottle. The woman is dressed in a tennis outfit and holding a racket. She has a lemon in her hand in lieu of a tennis ball. Her body becomes translucent and her bones are momentarily visible. Her water cocoon drops and she instantly emerges onto the court. The x-ray effect happens again as she starts playing tennis with the lemon. This commercial states, “Propel Fitness Water. To help bones stay healthy, and bodies in motion, stay in motion. Propel with calcium. It’s how Gatorade does water” (“Calcium”).

The magazine ad shows a man dropping out of a very large water faucet, in sporty clothes, as if he is the drop of water. His arm is the last part of his body to emerge from the faucet, and appears to be liquefied. There are two women in the ad who appear to have poured out of the faucet just seconds before him. One woman is standing at the bottom of an enormous white sink, directly under the faucet, in a splashing puddle of water. She is hitting a volleyball into the air. This woman is barefoot and clad only in a blue bikini. The other two people, liquiman and track girl, are fully clothed and are wearing shoes. Track girl is also in the bottom of the sink, and it’s assumed in the ad that she dropped out of the faucet first because she is jogging away from bikini woman. I find that the ad showing only the one woman half naked is interesting and sexist. Suddenly, I remember that I am looking at a men’s magazine. I just think that the clothing should be the same for all three of the individuals, whatever clothing that may be. The ad states “What if all water was made for bodies in motion?” (Propel 83).

This ad reminds me of yet another commercial on television where similar   athletic people are suddenly transformed from water into people in motion. These commercials, as well as the ad, impress me with the high tech ingenuity in which they are produced.

This commercial shows a shiny, dark gray, surface of water. People quickly emerge from this glass-like surface dressed in athletic clothing. They are holding athletic equipment and are moving as if they are playing the sport in which they portray. A tennis player is swinging her racket, a basketball player is shooting for a three pointer, and a gymnast is flipping off of a balance beam. These are just a few that I recall. I see them for a split second and then they disappear. The next one emerges onto the screen and disappears just as quickly. I find myself watching very closely for another one because I don’t want to miss out. It looks like they are having a lot of fun jumping around on my television screen. The commercial, if my memory serves me correctly, ends with these words on the television screen, “Propel Fitness Water. Flavor for now. Vitamins for later.”  This is a standard saying that Propel uses at the end of many of their commercials.

There is one more Propel Water commercial that I enjoy watching. I love the unique way it replaces objects as pieces of fruit. This gets my imagination going in the direction of visualization. I can visualize myself doing the same activities as the people in the commercial. They look like they are having so much fun! There is a skateboarder riding an extremely large ramp made of honeydew melon, a lady sitting on an oversized grape that turns into an exercise ball, a young man on a bicycle jumping kiwi fruit, rock climbers hanging from a gigantic mountain of strawberries, and again the tennis player using lemons as tennis balls. The conclusion shows a person on skis cascading down a cold wet water bottle while the narrator states, “Propel Fitness Water. Hydration never looked so refreshing” (“Perspective”).

The fruit is so big that I think I can actually taste it; I find humor in the size of the fruit. All of the ads and commercials that I’ve seen say that this water has a “light flavor.” The fruit looks pretty heavy to me. Although, this may be how the advertisers tempt the consumers into buying their water. The fine print in the ad, and on the television screen, upsets me a little because it says that Propel doesn’t actually contain fruit juice! Artificially flavored water may taste good to some, but I prefer the “real fruit” taste.

This was a disappointing discovery for me. They are asking me to purchase their healthy, re hydrating, energizing water that is suppose to be good for me. There is one positive reaction that I have about Propel. They know how to advertise. I was excited to try a flavor that might tickle my senses. However, I know now that the flavor is not coming from the huge fruit that I saw in the commercials that I’ve analyzed.

I think I will stick to my good old tasty friend Arrowhead Water; plain and refreshing for the thirsty person who just wants a drink of water. I’ve noticed that Gatorade also includes their name in all of the Propel commercials. This is a clever dual marketing tool in my opinion. While looking in the website for Propel I saw that there is a link to Gatorade. I clicked and found that there is another great advertising campaign for all of the products that Gatorade is marketing; not just Propel. There is the variety of flavors of regular Gatorade; sports drinks that are in the “thirst quencher” category. They have sports drinks that are marketed for high energy and endurance. Gatorade says that these “performance” drinks can be consumed as meal supplements for the elite competitor in training (“Gatorade”).

Advertising for all of the products on the market is arranged, in some clever way, to give us a false sense of security. The advertisers want us to believe that they care about us and that we need their product to satisfy some part of our lives. We sometimes buy products that we really don’t need because of this trickery. I believe that if the companies in this country, or any other country for that matter, would simply tell the truth they might possibly go bankrupt. Should Americans be manipulated in the interest of our economy? We might not purchase anything if we knew the real truth about certain aspects of the product.

This manipulation occurs without us even knowing that it’s happening. In “Masters of Desire: The Culture of American Advertising, Jack Solomon states that there is no “persuading” going on here. It’s all about “manipulation” because the ads and the commercials are not sources of information about products.  They are there to change our behavior and our thinking about advertising. They want to manipulate our emotions more than our brains (Solomon 160).

They are definitely creative in their strategies as I have learned and will continue to learn. The entertainment that advertising provides for our families is enjoyable, however, we need to educate our children about the sub messages that these companies are tossing out at them. I have decided to keep my textbook from this class and do just that. Educate my children. Now I have to come up with some creative advertising in order for my children to listen. I may need to pull out some humor to use this tactic, but I will teach them how to read between the lines of the advertisements when they are looking for things to buy. They will listen if I don’t sound like I’m lecturing. I hope.


 

Works Cited

“Calcium.” Propel Fitness Water.  Gatorade. 29 Apr. 2006. http://www.propelfitnesswater.com/.

Gatorade. 2003-2006. 6 May 2006. http://www.gatorade.com/home/index.php.

Maasik, Sonia, and Jack Solomon.  "Brought to You B(u)y: The Signs of Advertising."  Introduction to Chapter 2.  Signs of Life In the USA: Readings on Popular Cultures for Writers. 4th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003.  141-149.

“Perspective.” Propel Fitness Water. Gatorade. 29 Apr. 2006. http://www.propelfitnesswater.com/.

Propel Fitness Water. Advertisement. Men’s Health Magazine. Nov. 2005: 83.

Solomon, Jack. “Masters Of Desire: The Culture of American Advertising.” Signs of Life In the USA: Readings on Popular Cultures for Writers. Eds. Sonia Maasik and Jack Solomon. 4th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2003. 87-93.

 

              

Copyright 2006
Crystal Smith

 

Funded through the U.S. Dept. of Education, Title III Grant PO31A980143
Sherri Winans, Whatcom Community College, Bellingham, WA
1999-2015