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When Hutchison Whampoa acquired six UK water-cooler brands,


it wanted to be the number one water-cooler business in the country, with ambitions to expand into Europe. But, in an industry dominated by unimaginative and anonymous brands called ‘wells’ and ‘springs’, it needed to set itself apart.


Wolff Olins tapped into the idea of talking water – of the cooler as the place where people gather and chat – and created Powwow.
We helped identify an enormous range of improvements which would make the service it offered the best possible. For instance,
from 7am to 7pm the company guaranteed that an employee, not a machine, would answer calls.

The 19.2 litre water bottles were given handles to ease handling for the customer. Unique to the company, free bottle racks were supplied for easy stacking. To speed up delivery time, late night loading was introduced.

Our work touched every part of the business from employee behaviour and the working environment through to communications, product and services. The fresh approach enabled the company to make a fundamental shift: from being merely a water-cooler company to being first and foremost a service company.


Powwow was launched in July 2000 and immediately stood out in the water-cooler market, achieving sales growth of 11% in its first year. In 2003, Powwow was sold to Nestlé for nearly $1billion, and now operates in six countries in Europe. Today Powwow is the UK’s number one water-cooler brand.