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Rubio's 'Water Break' Gets Lots of Media Attention - for Poland Spring
02/13/2013   Reported By: Jay Field

The Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address was supposed to create a national stage for one of the party's emerging young leaders. But as Jay Field reports, the content of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's speech is getting less attention than the free bit of marketing it provided to one of Maine's most recognizable brands.

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Rubio's 'Water Break' Gets Lots of Media Attention Listen

It can happen to the best of us, right? We could be giving a class presentation, or a lengthy toast to a loved one headed for the alter. Or - in Marco Rubio's case - a highly anticipated speech to millions of our fellow Americans on television.

On Tuesday night, Rubio was well into a spirited conservative critique of President Obama's State of the Union address.

"The world is a better place when America is the strongest nation on earth. But we can't remain powerful, if we don't have an economy that can afford it," he said.

And then, it happened. Rubio got thirsty.

"Nothing has frustrated me more than false choices like the ones the President laid out tonight." (Long pause as Rubio takes a sip of water) "The choice isn't just between big government and big business," he continued. "What we need is a accountable, efficient and effective government that allows small new businesses to create more middle class jobs."

Radio listeners just heard a long pause. But TV viewers saw the parched Rubio reach - slightly awkwardly - off camera and grab a bottle of water. A bottle of water made right here in Maine.

"I was delighted that Poland Spring was right at hand there while Sen. Rubio had a moment of thirst," says Jane Lazgin, spokesperson for Nestle Waters, Poland Spring's parent company. "The response has been tremendously enthusiastic from out consumers and our fans."

Rubio's awkward water break moment immediately went viral. USA Today reported a little over 9,000 tweets per minute in the moments after THE sip. The senator poked fun at himself later, tweeting a photo of a bottle of Poland Spring and joking about the episode on the morning news shows.

Poland Spring itself didn't make mention of the cameo on its Facebook page until around midday, leading some marketing gurus to accuse the company of dropping the bottle. But Christopher Clegg, with Portland Marketing Analytics, says the episode is still a huge PR win for Poland Spring.

"I think I read a number that said 38 million saw the State of the Union the other night. And so, if any of those folks hung on and watched his response, you're looking at 30-plus million impressions Poland Spring is getting from that," Clegg says. "And that's natural media. That's not media they had to purchase."

Clegg says companies like Poland Spring typically spend an average of $12 for every 1,000 impressions. So at a minimum, he says the "Rubio water break" has probably given Poland Spring hundreds of thousands of dollars in free media exposure.


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