Bot­tled wa­ter deal brims with UT ap­peal

Ven­ture to raise money for school

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Melissa B. Taboada

They say Uni­ver­sity of Texas fans bleed orange. Now, they can drink it, too.

To­day, UT Pres­i­dent Wil­liams Pow­ers Jr., along with GSD&M Idea City co-founders Steve Gura­sich and Tim McClure, will an­nounce a part­ner­ship to sell H2Orange, pu­ri­fied wa­ter pack­aged in a bot­tle that is a scale-model replica of the UT Tower.

About 40 per­cent of pro­ceeds from the ven­ture will go to schol­ar­ships, fel­low­ships and in­tern­ships for UT stu­dents. The founders of H2Orange said the goal is to raise at least $1 mil­lion an­nu­ally for such projects. Just less than 60 per­cent of pro­ceeds will go to­ward busi­ness op­er­a­tions and prof­its. Gura­sich de­clined to dis­close es­ti­mates for those be­cause

Con­tin­ued from A they “are not cer­tain and can’t ven­ture an amount this early.”

“We are a pri­vate com­pany with a pub­lic heart,” said McClure, who grad­u­ated from UT in 1970. “It’s (our) legacy to give back to our alma mater.”

Gura­sich grad­u­ated in 1971, and the two have been busi­ness part­ners for 39 years, found­ing Austin’s largest ad­ver­tis­ing com­pany in 1971.

“Our bat­tle cry is, ‘Drink wa­ter. Bleed orange. Fund schol­ar­ships,” McClure said.

Among the bot­tled wa­ter com­pany’s small group of in­vestors — all of whom at­tended UT — are golfer Ben Cren­shaw, busi­ness gi­ant Red McCombs and for­mer quar­ter­back James Street.

UT is not putting money into the deal, but the li­cens­ing agree­ment will yield 8 per­cent of the pro­ceeds, the com­pany es­ti­mates.

The iconic 307-foot UT Tower — per­haps the uni­ver­sity’s most prom­i­nent sym­bol — was com­pleted in 1937. At the cen­ter of the UT cam­pus, it is lighted burnt orange to cel­e­brate sports vic­to­ries and grad­u­a­tions. It is used through­out the uni­ver­sity’s lo­gos and mar­ket­ing and fea­tured through­out the uni­ver­sity’s web­site.

It was also the site of Charles Whitman’s 1966 shoot­ing ram­page, the nation’s worst mass killing at the time with fa­tal wounds to 14 peo­ple.

De­spite the tower’s iconic sta­tus, this is the first li­cense UT has granted for a con­sum­able prod­uct fea­tur­ing the build­ing.

“We’re ex­cited about this,” Pow­ers said. “It’ll be some­thing the pub­lic and the alumni will en­joy, and it will go to a good cause of help­ing our stu­dents.”

The 16.9-ounce wa­ter bot- tles will go on sale Aug. 25, the first day of classes at UT, with a sug­gested price of $1.19 to $1.49. The wa­ter may even be sold in Col­lege Sta­tion — home of UT’s ri­val, the Texas A&M Uni­ver­sity Ag­gies — but there’s no telling whether it will be con­sumed or used for tar­get prac­tice, Gura­sich and McClure joked.

It will be the of­fi­cial wa­ter for the Texas Exes tail­gat­ing par­ties and will be avail­able at the Texas Exes cen­ter. But H2Orange will not be sold at UT games be­cause of li­cens­ing agree­ments with other bev­er­age com­pa­nies.

The bot­tled wa­ter in­dus­try is strong, with $9 bil­lion in state­side sales and $100 bil­lion in sales glob­ally, said Tom Lau­ria, vice pres­i­dent of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for the In­ter­na­tional Bot­tled Wa­ter As­so­ci­a­tion, a trade group for wa­ter bot­tlers, dis­trib­u­tors and sup­pli­ers with mem­bers world­wide.

The in­dus­try took a 1 per­cent dip last year be­cause of the econ­omy, Lau­ria said, but there are early signs that it is re­bound­ing. There are about 800 wa­ter bot­tlers na­tion­ally.

Though Lau­ria was not told specifics of the part­ner­ship — which uni­ver­sity was in­volved or what sym­bol the bot­tle repli­cated — he said pri­vate wa­ter bot­tle la­bels af­fil­i­ated with a uni­ver­sity would have a builtin mar­ket through cam­pus sup­port­ers and stu­dents.

“It sounds like a fun bot­tle of wa­ter, and they prob­a­bly will do well be­cause of it,” Lau­ria said. Us­ing a uni­ver­sity’s sym­bol may prompt peo­ple to keep the bot­tles, he said, but “if you do drink it, you can put pen­nies in (it) as a col­lec­tor’s item.”

McClure, author of the Don’t Mess with Texas an­tilit­ter cam­paign, came up with the idea to use the UT Tower as a wa­ter bot­tle three years ago while at a din­ner hon­or­ing long­time UT donor Jack Blan­ton. McClure has nick­named the drinkers of this bot­tled wa­ter “H2Orange­bloods.”

Though the bot­tled wa­ter in­dus­try re­mains healthy, crit­ics say that mak­ing and trans­port­ing plas­tic bot­tles uses en­ergy re­sources and that of­ten, empty bot­tles ac­cu­mu­late in land­fills. Some cities and other en­ti­ties have banned pur­chases of bot­tled wa­ter for city op­er­a­tions or city-spon­sored events, while oth­ers have made ef­forts to re­duce their con­sump­tion. In 2008, Austin stopped us­ing bot­tled wa­ter at City Hall meet­ings, opt­ing for pitch­ers of wa­ter on the coun­cil dais.

The bot­tle is 100 per­cent re­cy­clable, and the com­pany has bought car­bon cred­its, which fund projects aimed at re­duc­ing green­house gases, through Green Moun­tain En­ergy.

“We’re try­ing to be as con­scious about it as we can,” Gura­sich said.

The wa­ter will come from the Choke Canyon Reser­voir and Lake Cor­pus Christi, where the Cor­pus Christi Mu­nic­i­pal Wa­ter District will pu­rify it be­fore the in­de­pen­dent Oneta Bot­tling Com­pany bot­tles it. The bot­tled wa­ter will al­ways come from a Texas source and be bot­tled in-state and will al­ways fund schol­ar­ships, Gura­sich and McClure said.

H2Orange joins a long list of prod­ucts from which UT ben­e­fits through li­cens­ing agree­ments. As govern­ment fund­ing for higher ed­u­ca­tion falls and the econ­omy fal­ters, col­leges across the coun­try are look­ing for ways to in­crease their fund­ing for schol­ar­ships. H2Orange’s founders said they hope the idea will catch on at other schools.

“If this is suc­cess­ful here, we think it could be suc­cess­ful else­where,” McClure said.

Jay Jan­ner Amer­i­cAn-StAteS­mAn

The Uni­ver­sity of Texas and GSD&M Idea City part­nered to cre­ate bot­tled wa­ter in a UT Tower-shaped con­tainer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.