Digital & Social Media

Charity: Water’s Secret Ingredient


What happened:

Charity: Water recently partnered with BuzzFeed to show, not just tell, how dangerous dirty water can be. Charity: Water’s mission is to bring clean and safe drinking water to every person in the world, so for their recent “Fight Dirty” campaign, they teamed up with BuzzFeed to create a series of Tasty videos. Expecting a quick and yummy cooking lesson from BuzzFeed, viewers were shocked to discover the secret ingredient.

At first, the Tasty video seemed as delicious as ever with its fresh ingredients, upbeat background music and brightly colored dishware. But, when a dark and mucky liquid prompted instructions such as, avoid skin contact when pouring the batter, add two drops of bleach to kill Typhoid bacteria and strain out leeches, viewers realized that polluted water had replaced clean water in the recipes. Viewers couldn’t tear their eyes away from the Typhi Superfood Smoothies, Hirundea-infused Lemonade and Anabaeana Skillet Cornbread.

What this means for brands:

Nonprofits have long struggled to create impactful messages that help them stand out and ultimately bring attention and support to their cause.

While shock value helps, it’s difficult to create shock that also inspires action. When creating this video series, the team realized that people are more willing to fight against something than to fight for something. So, they created a video series that met their audience where they were – on their cell phones. Then, they transported their viewers into a harsher reality. For most, this video was the closest that they would ever become to experiencing the effects of dirty water, but viewers still came away shocked and disgusted.

As brands and nonprofits launch campaigns to bring about change, they should consider Charity: Water’s approach of meeting their audience where they are and then showing them a starker reality. When people see and feel a glimpse of the hardship that others face, they will undoubtedly come away with something to fight against.