Brilliant Brands Series: PERRIER [bright&shining star]

by Kurt on December 9, 2012

Here’s another brand in the BBI, the “BRILLIANT BRAND INDEX” ®Kurt Frenier.

As a reminder, the BBI® model has 8 dimensions that I deem important to qualify for a “brilliant brand”: 4 ‘brand coolness’ dimensions (a lovable brand, a beacon of trust, inherent universality, a memorable visual identity), and 4 ‘brand hotness’ dimensions (novel/contemporary marketing, on a growth trajectory, creativity & awesomeness, executed to excellence). And as mentioned before, the BBI is zero science, 100% gutfeel (my gutfeel)!


In the world of sparkling bottled water, Perrier stands out. I believe everyone will agree. Not necessarily because of its product, but because of its brand, its imagery, and its advertising.

As with many “old” brands, it all started with an individual pursuing his dreams… In 1898, doctor Louis Perrier, a physician involved in developing both spa and bottling facilities, bought a spring for himself and operated a spa there; on the side he bottled water. The spa over time went South, and all attention went to the bottling facility. Today, Perrier is sold around the world, and is part of the NESTLE family (so is its main rival, San Pellegrino, by the way)

The 4 ‘brand coolness’ dimensions:


Perrier’s positioning has been constant: little, French, elegant, festive, the “champagne of table water”! The brand has two dimensions/faces: [1] from a rational side, its historical promise of extreme refreshment, and [2] from a more emotional side, its “hype”, cool, fun, quirky personality with a drop of… FRENCHness. Even in their very first ad (see pic on the left), La Femme Noire, its renown quirkiness and elegance is prominent. They’ve pushed the “little green, fun bottle” as a luxury product with a touch of smartness, a symbol of the party -just as champagne does. Smart! Perrier became a badge. When you hold a Perrier bottle, it says something about yourself, it says you are sophisticated, trendy, modern, and you go for the best. A great “snob value” gets projected onto you, if you will. Thus, a brand with a great deal of “love” if you ask me.


Present in 140 countries, Perrier sells about 1 billion bottles of water a year, 50% outside France.

Even as early as 1976, the little bottle left to conquer America. By 1988, PERRIER was selling nearly 300 million bottles in the States, equating to 80% of all imported mineral water.

Their values of trust, quality, consistency are part of Perrier’s DNA.


What can be more universal than great bottled water? A ubiquitous commodity these days, YES. You buy “a Perrier” and you get exactly the same experience, wherever you go in the world. But, not easy to market it the way Perrier does, being so specific and unique in their brand identity. What they succeeded in doing is to keep the simplicity of the brand with amazing consistency in its very essence, the same all over the place. On top of that, they translate the Perrier quirkiness in local terms, around the world. Therefore, the Perrier brand travels, connecting with people around the globe. And how about the following for universality: Perrier appears along with Kleenex and Xerox  in the Oxford American dictionary. For a marketer, that’s a blessing AND a curse by the way. Asking for “a Perrier” is often synonym for asking a sparkling water.


Wow. Many things to write about, here. A blog post in itself! This is where Perrier really stands out, and one of the reasons why I admire them as a brand. They have “design strategy” figured out. And many brands can learn from them. Apart from a strong and innovative brand image, a noticeable brand recognition, continuous 360° communication, and original use of marketing,  and obviously their iconic bottle, Perrier has stretched their visual imagery in new areas, partnering with celebrities and designers around the world to play with the label designs and the advertising. The goal: to push the brand equity further. Each and every design action they undertook so far was their to help either the stature/elegance/premiumness or the fun/originality/quirkiness of their identity! One of their latest stunt is a proof of that, with a short-run packaging line, where each bottle has a “conversation” on the label. AWESOME

















The 4 ‘brand hotness’ dimensions :


Perrier has really been embracing “digital two-way conversation”, and takes it to the next level. I mean, have you seen “THE DROP”?  This [short film-style] commercial for Perrier begins with a woman in a car looking up at the hot sun. She pulls some lipstick out of her purse to put on, but it comes out in a liquid because it is so hot. Apparently, this is the future where global warming has gotten so bad, people can hardly stand it any more. The car she is in drives up to a huge gated house where members of the press are crowded around waiting for her arrival. Everyone is sweating and fanning themselves as they watch this woman walk by, and soon we see she has changed into a space suit. She climbs into a small glass ball space ship which launches into space right from the lawn of this huge house. The entire world eagerly waits to see how this mission goes to see if she can save the Earth from the sun’s heat. To obviously see her succeed in cooling the sun with a bottle of Perrier … now that is some serious kick-ass storytelling. And it shows boldness on the part of the Perrier leadership to execute it the way they did. The nearly 2 minute film sparked a whole conversation outside TV about global warming, about the future, about responsibility. What is more, they are inviting people everywhere to comment, to share, to build onto the story. Their “melting” theme has been done on several occasions before, so it seems they are onto something…

In 2011, Perrier launched a pretty stunning campaign on YouTube that incorporated the concept of group buying. Its YouTube channel featured a video of a club scene, accompanied by a thermometer on the right hand side. The more that people watch the video, the more scenes will get unlocked and the hotter the video will become. AWESOME! It must have been  a first experience of its kind, calling on people to share the channel not only to pass on something cool to their friends, but to actually get more out of the brand/viewing experience for themselves. The channel generated 174,000 views in the first 24 hours. What’s great and remarkable about this campaign is that it extends beyond promotion through social media, using offline channels to drive people to the YouTube channel. This is “break-through digital activation”. On top of that,  the experience carried over to the cocktail napkins used in cafes and bars, which invited consumers to call a phone number where an automated voice encouraged them to receive information via text about the promotion.


The numbers speak for themselves. In 1933, they sold about 19 million bottles (and that was already impressive for a small French brand). In 2004 the number was 750mm bottles, and today the brand crosses the billion bottles. Not a small feat. Perrier is also following the market dynamics. One of the most prominent expressions of that, that I remember, is the switch from glass to PET a few years back. While their green glass bottle still determines their image, the PET bottle is a perfect match, a great convenience, with the same iconic value as what their glass bottle delivered. Their amazing ability to premium price the little green bottle, to date, is another great lever to ensure continued growth.


The simplicity of Perrier’s positioning, which is creative in nature, is a source of inspiration and has many many legs. Kudos to the brand managers that keep the “spirit” of Perrier alive, and that keep awing the world with breakthrough creative. They make the brand remarkable (and remember Seth Godin’s definition: “worth making a remark about”!) and memorable. I’ll refer back to the back-of-the-napkin creative brief that one might get on the agency side. I mean, imagine: “Perrier, c’est fou!”, their creative platform for more than 35 year is an inspirational spark in itself. Wonderful.


Perrier is on the tables of the best restaurant, bars, clubs, cafes, has great presence in retail, and has amazing availability around the world. The co-existence of Perrier in the Nestle system obviously helps. And, in closing, who wouldn’t want to distribute and sell an amazing brand like that?

On the “BRILLIANT BRAND INDEX MAP” ®, I plot Perrier for sure as another “BRIGHT & SHINING STAR”!
Thanks for stopping by and reading this article! Let me know what you think – here, on twitter (@kurtfrenier), on facebook, or on LinkedIn. Kurt.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Samara Pope December 10, 2012 at 12:21 am

I remember as a kid in Dubai watching a perrier advt on television. In a cartoon, a man dying of thirst in the desert is crawling on all fours, almost dragging himself by his elbows across the hot sand searching for water. He comes cross a lone refreshments stand attended by a chic looking French server. Panting and barely able to speak from exhaustion, he gasps, ‘ Perrier, Perrier’.

He server, says, ‘ No Perrier’.

The man dying of thirst continues dragging himself across the hot desert sand . . .

That was part of the ‘ Perrier or nothing else’ campaign and I have actually witnessed more than once, people standing in line in coffee shops in DIFC, waiting to be served, who turn away and leave when the server says, sorry sir, we dont have Perrier, can I get you . . .


Lasanthi December 10, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Hi Kurt ,

I work as the Brand Ambassador for Perrier in the UAE . Love the article and thanks great work .



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