Friday, March 20, 2009

Order Tap Water & Help a Child

David Droga, creative chairman at the NY boutique ad agency Droga5, created the Tap Project, in order to help Unicef provide clean drinking water to children in developing countries.

The program allows patrons at participating restaurants to donate $1 to Unicef each time they bypass bottled water, and order free tap water with their meals.

Thus far, the Tap Project has raised almost $1 million to support Unicef water programs in countries like the Central African Republic, Guatemala, Haiti and Togo.

The campaign first appeared in Esquire magazine in 2007, and was limited to participating restaurants in New York. In 2008 the campaign went national, adding dozens of participating cities, and gaining the support of other ad agencies. The agencies are creating pro bono ad campaigns designed to increase diners' awareness of, and participation in the program.

Supporters include:

* Students at the Brigham Young University Ad Lab and the Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter are contributing ads along with a score of agencies.

* Initial sponsor American Express.

* New sponsors Watergeeks Laboratories, which makes products like water bottles, and Barnes & Noble, which will sell a line of Tap Project merchandise at the cafes inside its bookstores.

* Agencies - Droga5; Energy BBDO in Chicago, part of the BBDO Worldwide unit of the Omnicom Group; Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco, also an Omnicom agency; Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in Boston, part of the Interpublic Group of Companies; Publicis West in Seattle, part of the Publicis Groupe; Saatchi & Saatchi in New York, another Publicis agency; and the Playa del Rey, Calif., office of TBWA/Chiat/Day, part of the TBWA Worldwide division of Omnicom; Casanova Pendrill in Costa Mesa, Calif.; Grupo Gallegos in Long Beach, Calif.; and PopuliCom in San Juan.

A group of executives from these participating agencies traveled to Guatemala this February, with Unicef, to see the impacts that the Tap Project has had on the community.

One of the executives, Teresa Elston, Grupo Gallegos managing director, said that "it doesn’t take much to make a big difference. It was amazing the differences between communities that had clean water systems and those that did not. In the communities that didn’t have water, most of the kids didn’t have shoes. The ones that did, the kids seem to be thriving in so many ways.”

This year, in addition to adding more participating cities, bringing the total count up to 19, the campaign has been translated into Spanish. Three ad agencies are creating ads which will appear in media like television, radio, the Internet, magazines and newspapers in Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Puerto Rico.

Additionally, the Tap Project is looking beyond the restaurant industry, given the economic downturn. For example, the Tap Project is encouraging supporters to host parties during World Water Week, which starts on March 22nd, and to donate money using their mobile phones; they can text “tap” or “agua” (Spanish for “water”) to Unicef (864233) to make a $5 donation.

Agency Casanova Pendrill is experimenting with vending machines, which will be installed in locations such as Bayfront Park in Miami and Union Square in Manhattan. These vending machines will appear to be selling dirty, germ-laden water, which Ingrid Otero-Smart, president and chief executive at Casanova Pendrill, says symbolizes “the choices a mom is confronted with” in countries where there is little or no clean drinking water for her children."

This year's campaign coincides with World Water Week, which begins on March 22nd, with World Water Day. To find other World Water Day events, go here.

To find a Tap Project participating restaurant in your neighborhood, go here.

Source: A Campaign for Clean Drinking Water Expands
, New York Times, Stuart Elliott, March 5, 2009.

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