One Drop doesn’t hold back

The clean water non-profit shows how a child's first moments can turn into their last in a new campaign by Sid Lee.

One Drop, the Quebec-based non-profit that works to improve access to clean water in developing countries, is trying to bring the severity of the issue to life for Canadian mothers with a heartbreaking video, part of its first public-facing campaign in several years.

The video for the “#MoreFirsts” campaign begins in a familiar way, with mothers documenting things like the first steps, words and smiles of their children. But it takes a turn as those first moments turn into last moments because of a lack of access to clean water, and encourages Canadians to donate to the organization so these kids can have “more firsts.”

The social side of the campaign encourages mothers to share their children’s firsts under the “#MoreFirsts” hashtag as a way to encourage others to donate. The campaign was led by Sid Lee, with media buying from Konversion.

One Drop was founded in 2007 by Guy Laliberté, also the founder of Cirque du Soleil. Kristian Manchester, ECD at Sid Lee, says much of the organization’s past efforts – such as benefit events and outreach to potential partner organizations – were more positive and uplifting in tone.

“It’s not a happy story, but the research told us that to make a change, we couldn’t be soft with the messaging, especially since this was their first public-facing campaign in five years,” Manchester says. “These mothers are struck with the choice of giving their child drink contaminated water or being dehydrated, and that is an incredibly tough situation many mothers here might not ever consider.”

According the WHO, a child dies every minute from illness caused by water contamination, poor hygiene or dehydration.

“It was important for us to reflect these people’s reality,” adds Pascal Chandonnet, CMO at One Drop. “The campaign’s call to action was more aggressive because always portraying people as happy doesn’t always translate into a good comprehension of the problem.”

Since 2007, Chandonnet says One Drop has been working to refine its mission, its intervention model and to engage partners.

“In the world of NGOs, One Drop is still very young,” Chandonnet says. “We’ve decided to shift our core business to concentrate on providing access to safe water in developing countries, when we were previously also involved with raising awareness about water consumption in North America. Now that we’ve figured that out, it was a good time to do a public fundraising campaign.”

Both Chandonnet and Manchester see potential in turning “#MoreFirsts” into an ongoing platform, even going after other target groups or segments. But for the time being, the focus is on mothers, creating a story that can be targeted to the group it speaks most to on a limited, non-profit-sized budget.

“These things could speak to all parents, and everyone has a mom,” Manchester says. “But we know moms in North America are documenting these moments anyway, and this lets us show them they have a privilege to document all these moments in their kids’ lives when others are remembering their last moments.”