The Coldest Water Bottle
July 21st, 2021
Sebastian Espinosa is stranded in the middle of the ocean. Well, he’s only pretending to be stranded. Espinosa is a TikTok influencer (@bocabro) with more than 500,000 followers, which explains the only two objects in his possession: a portable phone charger and a conspicuously branded reusable water bottle called the Coldest Water bottle.
In fact, it appears to be no coincidence that, out of the 47 videos in the TikTok series – which spanned several months last year but continue to accumulate views and likes on Espinosa’s TikTok account – the Coldest Water bottle features prominently in 10 of them, along with #thecoldestwater and the company tag @thecoldestwater. According to a Coldest Influencer FAQ, that’s the number of posts required of participants in the brand’s social media influencer program if they want to get paid:
We only send payment after the work is complete so once you have completed 10 videos.
Another FAQ discusses FTC advertising disclosure requirements for influencers, which Espinosa has clearly shirked because there is no advertising disclosure whatsoever in the posts. That is, unless he is not a Coldest Influencer. But all signs point to him being one, such as repeatedly holding the bottle up to the camera in the same video so viewers can clearly read the logo (see video above).
Several of Espinosa’s Coldest Water posts also match the description of the TikTok videos that the National Advertising Division (NAD) recently challenged as part of an inquiry into whether the influencer posts were undisclosed ads for Coldest Water. (Note: NAD did not identify the influencers by name.) NAD said in a press release:
In each video, a Coldest Water bottle is displayed prominently somewhere in the foreground or background so that the brand logo can clearly be seen, but the product itself is not mentioned or referenced by the influencer. The challenged videos use the hashtag “#thecoldestwater” and tag the company (@thecoldestwater), but do not include any material connection disclosures to the company.
NAD referred the videos to the FTC after the Coldest Water failed to respond to its inquiry. TINA.org received the same nonresponse after we reached out to the company for comment for this ad alert.
Check back for updates.
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