This summer, there’s a new refreshing drink packed in town, at least in my hometown of Chicago. The labels are colorful and flashy, the marketing the campaigns appear to have been created by social media influencers, and the name is, well, unique. It’s called Chicago. IIt’s canned water, and it’s completely off the mark.
What is Chicagwa?
I’ll let the statement I received from the Chicago Water Management Department speak for itself:
Chicagwa, a new brand campaign from the City of Chicago, seeks to raise awareness of Chicago’s proximity to – and its rich history with – one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world. The Chicagwa name combines the words “Chicago” and “water” to create a drinking water brand that also highlights the nearly 750 million gallons of water the Chicago Department of Water Management treats every day. Additionally, the name refers to both the Spanish word for water and the Miami-Illinois word “shikaakwa” from which the city’s name is derived.
TL; DR: It’s Chicago tap water in a can. The water was canned by Chicago-based Great Central Brewing Company and comes in six different cans, each designed by a different local artist.
“You don’t need fancy bottled water from Fiji or a Scandinavian glacier – not when the Department of Water Stewardship carefully treats and purifies our drinking water so it’s good straight from the tap “, a statement from representatives of the Department of Water Management reads. “The campaign amplifies how Lake Michigan is our past, our present and our future. We need to do what we can to preserve the resource so residents can stay chidrated for years to come.
Nopewhere in the answers to my questions did the city mention Why Lake Michigan suddenly needed this positive PR spin. Did the lake tweet something bad that i didn’t see? I can only assume the campaign is all about earning some nice points for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot as she preparing for his re-election campaign. But at the end, Chicago Washingtonit’s a missed opportunity to raise awareness and, I don’t know, really do something make a city drinking water more accessible to all.
How Chicagwa misses the mark
When I asked the city how they were working to meet the impact of lead pipes on drinking water in the citythey sent back this amazing PR answer:
The Department of Water Management is working closely with City Hall to develop a comprehensive, sustainable and equitable program that leverages the historic investment in infrastructure upgrades to address this legacy issue across the city. the city.
The Chicagwa website explains in depth how water is drawn from lake michigan and purified. The description, however, seems to hover over the part where this purified water actually has to be piped to people’s faucets and the obstacles it encounters along the way. Chicagwa could have been an awareness campaign to get the city to own its shit, something along the lines of, “Yeah, we’re aware of the lead issues, so we can this water before it hits the pipes, and Good give the for free while we find out.
These water canisters in Chicago aren’t even used to support the city’s population who may not have access to a dripping tap – yes, they’re free, but they’re stored in places such as restaurants and markets which homeless people are unlikely to attend. One of the pictures on Chicagwa Instagram Page shows Chicago Police Department officers enjoying the stuff, if that gives you an idea of the target demographic.
I would have even bought Chicagwa as a conservation campaign: our lake is so amazing, so let’s not pollute it, let’s clean up the beaches, let’s make sure drinking water doesn’t become a finite resource! Instead, the site “What this means to us” page talks about how “water is our future”, explaining, “As other water sources dry up, we’re huddled next to a giant freshwater lake that’s going nowhere. It’s kept us hydrated from the start, and that’s enough. great for keeping us and our neighboring suburban friends chidrated almost always.
The city basically admits that selling canned water is a big brag about how hydrated we’ll be. for all time. It’s a message that spits in the face of Chicago’s Midwest neighbors in Flint, Michigan, where the hard water crisis since 2014.
Access to potable and even safe-to-the-touch water is an ongoing global crisis. According to Water.org, 1 in 10 people do not have access to drinking water. I’m all for novelty items, for Lake Michigan praise, even for exploring different vessels in which to provide water to others, beyond plastic bottles. But do it with insensitive messaging around an issue that affects so many people is not just a missed opportunity, but a pretty heinous act.
Organizations like Water.org, the United States Water Alliance, clean water fundand a lot a lot After work to provide water for all and educate people about how providing access to clean water and preserving our water supply fits into the larger fight against the global climate crisis. Partnering with one of them on a project involving Lake Michigan (and all things water supply) would be a big step in showing the city cares. Until then, Chicagwa will remain an empty and confusing publicity stunt.