Watson's water sloshes over buzzwords

Local | Maisy Mok 21 Jun 2021

Some ParknShop outlets have removed from their shelves Watson's bottled water with slogans that could be seen to link with protest buzzwords and themes.

The bottled water series, named "Hong Kong is Really Beautiful" in Chinese, was launched this month. Some of the slogans that are a part of the series include "There is a spirit called persistence" and "No matter whether we leave or stay, our roots are here."

A ParknShop employee said stores in Hong Kong and Macau had removed bottled water from the series from the shelves and are keeping them in storage until further notice.

While bottled water from the series could no longer be seen at some outlets of ParknShop and Watson's, both companies being under CK Hutchison's A S Watson Group, the distilled water from the series was still available in convenience stores such as 7-Eleven.

The "Beautiful" series sees water carrying four different labels featuring pictures of Hong Kong and various slogans.

The pictures were taken by award-winning photographer Kelvin Yuen and show the landmarks of Kowloon Peak, Lion Rock, Victoria Harbour and Ma On Shan.

Besides the "persistence" and "roots" lines, they include "Look up, a sunny day can always be seen" and one that refers to chasing a dream.

It was the slogans that attracted attention, with some people asking if they contained hidden meanings.

Watson's Water rejected that notion on its Facebook page, adding that the phrase "spirit of perseverance" had been in a brand slogan for 10 years and "reflects our determination in recycling." It also told media outlets that "Hong Kong is Really Beautiful" is one of the themes of a short-term promotion campaign for an environmentally-friendly product, and that "this is a usual practice in sales marketing."

But the Watson's Water Facebook page was flooded with calls yesterday for the company to stop self-censorship efforts and demands that all products again be available at retail outlets.

Former legislator and now fugitive Nathan Law Kwun-chung wrote that authorities may consider the slogans to be linked to democratic resistance. "They are forbidden words to Hong Kong pro-establishment people and companies," he said.

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