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By Danielle Douglas

While writing and producing television programs, such as the Jamie Foxx Show, in the early 2000s, Kevin G. Boyd noticed something. Actors were very particular about their H2O. “They would request specific, premium brands of water in their riders. And they practically flaunted their water, as if it had something to do with their status,” Boyd observed.

Status symbols were certainly at the height of pop culture concern, making Jacob the Jeweler and Cristal Champagne household names. Keenly aware of this, Boyd saw an opportunity to introduce a luxury brand of water that would appeal to image-conscious tastemakers.

Presentation was key. But on a tight budget, Boyd bypassed a professional graphic artist and designed the product in his Los Angeles home office, where he selected everything from the fonts to the casing. Packaged in a frosted glass bottle, adorned with Swarovki crystals, Boyd’s Bling H2O definitely stood out. And at an average $44 a bottle, it gained quite a bit of attention when it debuted in 2006.

One article after another questioned the product’s price point or deemed it the epitome of conspicuous consumption. But all the publicity played right into Boyd’s marketing plan. “The price point is what got us on AOL’s front page, then you name it from Forbes’ outrageous list to Playboy, GQ to Maxim.”

It certainly didn’t hurt that a number of celebrities, like Paris Hilton and Gabrielle Union, were spotted donning bottles of Bling H2O. But it wasn’t just hype that distinguished the product, Boyd said. The water is sourced from a natural spring in Dandridge, TN, where it undergoes a nine-step purification process.

To play up the prestige—and minimize costs, Boyd sold the product as a limited edition. “Because I couldn’t go out and make a million bottles I had to be very strategic about where the bottles ended up,” he said. “So I made sure I got them in the right hands and at sponsored events.”

Image proved to be the driving force behind the success of Bling H20. “Kevin created a brand and elevated water to the next level,” said Michael Mascha, the Los Angeles-based author of “Fine Water: A Connoisseur’s Guide to the World’s Most Distinctive Bottled Waters.” He added, “Putting so much emphasis on the significance of the brand gives it a certain cache. That’s why he had very high visibility in the marketplace early on.”

Mascha, who met Boyd during Bling’s conception, said, “Kevin was one of the very first people who saw the potential of bottled water being an aspirational item.”

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