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Responsible Marketing

A long walk for a short, dirty drink

By April 23, 2008April 22nd, 20212 Comments

If your tap went dry at home, what would you do?

If you were forced to walk to the nearest source of water—a river, a stream, a pond—on foot, how far would you have to travel?

And how would it make you feel—deep down—if you had to give your children dirty water to drink after all that?

That’s the simple but powerful premise of the above charity: water public service announcement (PSA).

As New York City’s taps go dry, a mother walks to Central Park and is forced to haul dirty water home to her family.

Just as millions of mothers do in Africa every day.

Here’s what charity: water is working to solve

Right now, 1.1 Billion people on the planet don’t have access to safe, clean drinking water. That’s one in six of us.

Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation causes 80% of all sickness and disease, and kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Many people in the developing world, usually women and children, walk more than three hours every day to fetch water that is likely to make them sick. Those hours are crucial, preventing many from working or attending school. Additionally, collecting water puts them at greater risk of sexual harassment and assault. Children are especially vulnerable to the consequences of unsafe water. Of the 42,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and a lack of basic sanitation, 90% are children under 5 years old.

Great marketing with no excuses

So many non-profits use their non-profit status as a crutch, calling in favors to create their marketing and communications materials. Usually, their marketing looks like, well, they’ve called in some favors to create their marketing and communications materials.

That’s not the case with charity: water.

The organization has worked their connections and managed to pull together some top-shelf work. For the video, award-winning cinematographer Ellen Kurasbuts, Hotel Rwanda director Terry George, and Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly all donated their time to the effort.

Their website is better than most commercial companies.

Their branding, messaging, copy, photography….are all playing well together.

And if you think they spending donations on marketing, think again. 100% of all donations are being put to use. All work is being done in-kind.

Bottled water?

But why are they selling bottled water, when bottled water is terrible for the environment? They’ve tackled that one head on on their Isn’t bottled water evil? page:

Question: “Isn’t bottled water evil? Why are you using plastic water bottles?”

Bottled water has gotten plenty of bad press lately. The industry is now $16 billion a year, and 38 billion plastic bottles get tossed into landfills each year. And 24% of all bottled water is actually just tap water repackaged by Coke and Pepsi.

What could be worse? We think the fact that 1 in 6 people on our planet are forced to drink polluted water is worse. We think seeing 4,500 kids die each day from diseases like parasites and diarrhea is worse.

We are not a bottled water company. We want to give everyone on earth access to the same clean, safe drinking water that comes out of our taps. Our $20 bottle was created in response to the gratuitous excess of wealth and waste we see everywhere. There’s nothing special about the actual bottle. We pay 34¢ for each one, and the water comes from a spring in upstate New York. What is special, is what that $20 does for people in need. Early on, we pledged to always give 100% of the money away – very much unlike for-profit companies whose bottom line matters most.

There are hundreds of non-profits and for-profit organizations using bottled water as a tool to raise money for worthy causes. But charity: water is doing it better than any of them.

What’s the best PSA you’ve ever seen? In the non-profit space, who ‘gets it’ when it comes to marketing?

Comment below to weigh in.

And of course, you can donate as well.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Deston says:

    First: I’ll do anything Jennifer Connelly tells me to. Period.

    Second: what about Brita’s campaign against plastic water bottles, but doesn’t mention those heavy plastic filters you use in its products? Oh well.

    Best PSA? The crying Native American in the 60s. That stopped people littering nationwide. Except for those clowns flicking their cigarette butts out the window.

  • Jeff says:

    I always liked the “this is your brain on drugs” PSAs — especially how they kept getting darker and edgier, with the girl finally smashing everything with the frying pan, the way drugs smash everything in your life. Really memorable. I wonder what happened to them.

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