“Maybe they know something we don’t?”

I looked over at my breakfast companion, a PR maven, as he was musing over a sugar packet. “Look at all of this empty space, and they don’t even have their URL on there”. Then, one by one, he looked at all of the artificial sweetener packets.  Then the little mini jars of jam from Switzerland.  Nope, they didn’t have anything either.

It’s somewhat astounding that after more than a decade into the web revolution, many businesses don’t take advantage of the real estate on packaging to develop connections with customers. Ah, here’s one – my bottle of San Pellegrino water. They have TWO websites.  Only the first, “sanpellegrino.com” (the way it’s printed on the bottle) doesn’t come up unless you type in the WWW- but instead returns an error!  As my 13-year-old son likes to say, “Epic Fail”.

Overall, though, San Pellegrino doesn’t do a bad job – their websites are informative and attempt to align the brand to a passion for fine food and wines. Furthermore, the website includes that ubiquitous little blue box inviting us to “like” them on Facebook. I’ll throw them an extra point for that.  On their Facebook page, over 2,600 people have become fans of the spring water. Unfortunately, here is where the marketers flunk out:

  1. They don’t post that often. In December 2010, they posted 9 times.  We’re talking about engagement – it simply isn’t going to happen if the posts are happening so infrequently.
  2. Self-promotional.  Every single December wall post was somehow promoting San Pellegrino water. C’mon guys, San Pellegrino Christmas tree ornaments?
  3. There appears to be a REAL FAN page with over 15,000 fans at http://www.facebook.com/pages/San-Pellegrino/17733232047?v=wall – look, if your fans are willing to be your advocates, work with them. When Coca Cola had discovered that real fans had built a page, instead of ignoring it or asking that it be taken down, they ended up supporting it.

The San Pellegrino brand is part of an even greater brand, that of Italy itself. And that brand is one of the most beloved brands around. I, for one, am a fan (and I don’t mean in the Facebook sense) of the water. When I drink it, I’m reminded of wonderful visits to Lazio and Umbria.  If I’m not alone in the affection, then San Pellegrino is missing out on tapping into some strong passion points. I’ve met many brand managers, and I understand the compulsion to promote the brand, but please, for the love of all things good in life, take a leap of faith and work from a place of passion. This is the realm in which your customers will not only click a “like” button, but become your true fans.

Special note to the person who does the San Pellegrino Facebook page: Look, I’m not being snarky here, really, and I’m not trying to get you in trouble with your boss. I love the way you DO respond to comments on your wall.  Regarding my criticisms? MOST brands are guilty of much worse – I’m only picking on you because, well, I was drinking a bottle of San Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water. Ciao!