UNICEF: A $5 Donation Could Win You Some “Ridiculously Famous Water”

This post is part of a blogging series by marketing students at the Presidio Graduate School’s MBA program. You can follow along here.

By Megan Redford

Aiming to capitalize on awareness of 2011’s World Water Week (held March 20 to 26), a new campaign for UNICEF’s Tap Project puts a humorous spin on celebrity bottled water endorsements as a way to provide clean drinking water to children in need.

Jennifer Aniston has been the spokesperson for Smartwater since 2007, helping Glacéau convince women everywhere that every drop of Smartwater helps achieve that sexy, healthy image. Aniston was later joined by easy-on-the-eyes quarterback legend, Tom Brady, as a second voice and athletic face for the brand. Vitamin Water, also from Glacéau, was in part funded by rapper 50 Cent, and has used several other celebrity personalities who created their own Vitamin flavors. Even Ellen DeGeneres stumped for the brand, serving as spokesperson by replacing the signature Coca-Cola cup for a bottle of Vitamin Water Zero during her judging stint on American Idol. Last month, Pepsi Co. unveiled supermodel Cindy Crawford as the new face of Propel Zero. Mark Wahlberg, as shareholder and board member for AquaHydrate, is the latest celeb seeking blue gold. The list goes on.

Then there is the other side of celebrity water endorsements, with Matt Damon co-founding water.org and using his celebrity and influence to enable clean water as a human right.

What this dichotomy illustrates is that water clearly lives in two different worlds in the minds of consumers. On the one hand, there is the bottom of the pyramid, where the underserved must opt for either water born diseases or a compromised way of life. On the other, there is the world where water is in abundance, and manufactured demand for bottled water has made for big business. As 2011’s World Water Week came and went, so did the flurry of press and marketing activity in support of, or capitalizing on, the pivotal issue of water. While some efforts succeeded in jogging memories on the true state and value of this resource, the fact remains there are 1 billion people globally who lack access to clean water.

This is all serious stuff, no doubt. Yet, one unique campaign angle comes from UNICEF’s Tap Project. David Droga, a creative director at boutique agency, Droga5, launched the Tap Project in 2007. The Tap Project’s fundraising premise is for restaurants to ask diners to donate $1 or more for tap water that is typically enjoyed gratis. According to UNICEF’s Caryl Stern, “Every day more than 4,000 children die from water-related diseases. Just one dollar provides 40 days of clean drinking water to a child in need.” So far the campaign has raised $2.5 million in the U.S.

Celebrity Tap Donation Home PageThis year’s Tap Project campaign, dubbed ‘Celebrity Tap Pack’, puts a humorous spin on this serious issue by blending the celebrity as spokesperson and celebrity as activist angles. It’s a departure from typical images of starving and neglected children, and instead uses star power, wit and some levity to poke fun at celeb bottled water endorsements. The campaign is a fundraising sweepstakes where it takes “only $5 to win some ridiculously famous water.” The lucky winners get a case of bottled tap water that comes direct from the home tap of stars like Rihanna, Selena Gomez, Adrian Grenier, Robin Williams and Taylor Swift. The prized cases — cleverly called “The Ultimate Deluxe Platinum Celebrity Tap Pack [Limited Edition]”— come with one-of-a-kind, custom made bottle designs. The campaign cheekily proclaims “It’s just like your tap water, but more famous” and “One seriously premium pack of famousness. Famousness that helps children.” With Taylor Swift Tap, the campaign jokes, “From a singer-songwriter comes a faucet-water.” The campaign’s donation drive goes through April 30, 2011. View the Celebrity Tap Pack Commercial.

Does this approach of star power, humor and light heartedness work to make you want to open your wallet and donate $5?

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