Why I Love Vitamin Cruelty (sort of)…

…the ads, not the cruelty!

If you haven’t seen them yet, here are a few examples in poster form:

Stop Vitamin Cruelty
Stop Vitamin Cruelty ad, NYC Bryant Park subway station, September 2013
Stop Vitamin Cruelty
Stop Vitamin Cruelty ad, NYC Bryant Park subway station, September 2013

And here’s a commercial.

Stop Vitamin Cruelty ads directly mock and snub brands like Lifewater and Vitamin Water by suggesting vitamins die when they sit in water. Here’s why the ads work:

• The ever-common trick of personifications. Vitamins—those strange things in our food and pills that we don’t quite understand—don’t just deteriorate in water: they die. They die slow, painful deaths. And when we purchase vitamin-filled water, we participate in their executions. I can’t be responsible for the cruel and unusual punishment of innocent vitamins—definitely not ones as cute as these—can you? Even the one with the 1970s porn-star mustache is adorable. Seriously, you want to kill these little guys?

• Without naming names, the ads explain why you shouldn’t buy the other guys’ products, but should buy this one. The bottom phrase—”Some vitamins...deteriorate sitting in water. Keep vitamins fresh in the cap. We do.”—will, for most, immediately bring to mind those other brands. And unlike them, these Vitamin Cruelty guys really care; they want to keep vitamins fresh (as you would lettuce, or apples, or other healthy stuff).

• They say that you’re wasting your money on the other waters. There are no vitamins left. You’re buying colored water, and that’s it. Actually, water filled with dead vitamins…gross.

Stop Vitamin Cruelty ads are cute, funny, and smart. They make me laugh. I like to see them, and I hope to see more. But I also hope to see the actual product in a store. What’s it called? Vitamin Cruelty? Why haven’t I seen it anywhere? Is it even for sale? It exists, right?

OK, so maybe the ads are cute and funny, but somehow, I doubt they have any products jumping off shelves. The product’s called Activate, not Vitamin Cruelty, and has been around for years, and the bottle has little relation to the new ad campaign. Activate’s vitamins live in the cap, so I guess we are to assume the vitamin deaths are more humane if they occur in your digestive system, rather than in a plastic bottle. The image of swallowing those little creatures remains. I haven’t purchased a vitamin water since I’ve seen the ads, mostly because they’ve convinced me vitamin waters are gimmicks and the vitamins in them are dead and useless. But my investment in coconut waters has increased (potassium is no gimmick!) so maybe my health has improved?

In the end, all pre-packaged vitamin water is a waste of plastic. Let’s fill our reusable bottles with regular free water, and if we need a little boost, pour some Emergen-C or Airborne in—same powder, less waste, and no immediate associations with the happy, dancing vitamins. But let’s enjoy the funny ads, and hopefully a few competitors’ rebuttals in the meantime…

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