Arto LIFEWTR aims to give a canvas to artists

The premium bottled water brand is dedicated to showcasing emerging artistic talent through its packaging and ad campaigns. But is it a genuine cause for good or a diluted distraction from the plastic debate?

PepsiCo and Britvic recently brought premium water brand Arto LIFEWTR to the UK, promising to spotlight the work of three new emerging twice a year on the bottle packaging. The first batch of artists is made up of Lynnie Z, Craig & Karl, and Yinka Ilori. The labels are certainly eye-catching, a welcome change from the growing flurry of frankly unremarkable premium water brands lining supermarket shelves.

To cement its nascent reputation as a champion of creativity, Arto LIFEWTR has backed up its initial offering with a new series of ads inspired by the vibrant labels, which were made by artists like Jessica Dance, Emma Rodriguez, Paul Fuentes and Daria Solak.

This is of course nothing new. From art students to Damien Hirst, Becks has been commissioning artists to decorate their bottles since the early 90s, while vodka brand Absolut has demonstrated a commitment to the art scene for over 30 years. However, this approach is helping Arto LIFEWTR stand out among competitors like GLACÉAU Smartwater, which is owned by PepsiCo’s lifelong rivals Coca-Cola.

Arto LIFEWTR’s strategy might not be novel, but supporting creatives is always positive, isn’t it? Perhaps, but the key difference here is in what these products make use of. At this stage, trying to sell anything that uses plastic seems like playing with fire.

On the plus side, it was recently announced that, in North America at least, LIFEWTR packaging will be 100% composed of rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate) by next year. Though it remains to be seen whether this will also be implemented for other markets, the UK product information highlights that it’s currently made out of 50% recycled plastic.

However, it’s a fairly weak stance considering the market is abundant with sustainable water bottles made from materials that are actually reusable, like stainless steel. On top of that, PepsiCo has still refused to disclose how much plastic it gets through, whereas the Coca-Cola Company owned up to its plastic levels as part of wider efforts to encourage recycling.

The question here is: if people are going to buy plastic bottled water anyway – albeit at a premium price – then isn’t it better to create visually appealing bottles that they’re more likely to hold onto? Possibly. Whether that’s enough to satisfy criticisms around sustainability in the bottled drinks sector though, remains to be seen.