Coke's UK Dasani Launch Hits New Setback

22 March 2004

Coca-Cola's UK launch of Dasani bottled water ran into further trouble over the weekend as the drinks giant announced a product recall.

Coke discovered that levels of bromate -- a chemical that can increase the risk of cancer given long-term exposure -- exceeded legal levels. After consulting the Food Standards Agency, it has recalled the 500,000 bottles in UK circulation, though it insists there is no immediate danger to public health.

Dasani is created by purifying the local mains supply via a process called 'reverse osmosis' then mixing in various nutrients. Coke believes a batch of calcium that was added to the water "did not meet our quality standards", resulting in the bromate contamination.

The recall is the latest setback to Dasani's UK launch. Having built the brand into America's second-biggest bottled water, Coke was hopeful of similar success across the Atlantic. However, its multimillion-dollar ad strategy ran into immediate trouble when the British press 'discovered' the source of the water.

Coke has always openly admitted that Dasani is created from the local mains supply. But the papers -- never afraid to let readily available information get in the way of a good story -- slammed the beverage behemoth for bottling tap water, giving the product the unflattering nickname 'eau de Sidcup' after the town in Kent from which the water is drawn [WAMN: 03-Mar-04].

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff