Water is Life Case study Hashtag Killer by DDB New York

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Hashtag Killer

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Industry Public awareness
Media Case study
Market United States
Agency DDB New York
Director Alec Helm
Executive Creative Director Menno Kluin
Art Director Sam Shepherd
Copywriter Frank Cartagena
Producer Lindsey Hutter
Released November 2012


Cannes Lions 2013
Branded content & entertaiment lions Branded Entertainment; Best use or integration of digital or social media Bronze

Credits & Description

Type of entry: Branded Entertainment
Category: Best use or integration of digital or social media
Advertiser: WATER IS LIFE
Chief Creative Officer: Matt Eastwood (DDB Ny)
Executive Creative Director: Menno Kluin (DDB Ny)
Art Director: Sam Shepherd (DDB Ny)
Copywriter: Frank Cartagena (DDB Ny)
Director: Alec Helm (DDB Ny)
Executive Producer: Ed Zazzera (DDB Ny)
Editors: Alec Helm (DDB Ny)
Editors: Melanie Meditz (DDB Ny)
Producer: Lindsey Hutter (DDB Ny)
Motion Graphics: Gina Lin (DDB Ny)
Motion Graphics: Zeynep Aydogmus (DDB Ny)
Head Of Design: Juan Carlos Pagan (DDB Ny)
Describe the campaign/entry
The "Hashtag Killer" campaign set out to eradicate the ironic #FirstWorldProblems meme, in which people tweet about such life burdens as non-heated leather seats or forgetting their maid's last name - and, in the process, raise awareness about WATERisLIFE and the world water crisis.
The 'Hashtag Killer' campaign set out to eradicate the ironic #FirstWorldProblems meme in which people tweet about such life burdens as non-heated leather seats or forgetting their maid's last name - and, in the process, raise awareness about serious developing world issues.
For our anthem commercial, we gathered various "first world problem" tweets and then approached people in Haiti to recite them. But perhaps even more effective was the video series of personalized responses, in which various Haitians console users of the hashtag.
Unlike an ordinary campaign, this particular idea needed to be filmed, edited and dispersed in as close to real time as possible. The idea was that when someone would complain about a first world problem on Twitter, they would get a direct response film within a day or two from either a Haitian man, woman or child, sympathizing with them. In total, we created 15 individual videos, an anthem commercial, a press campaign and a radio campaign.
Upon launch in early October, we activated our pre-seeded network of celebrities, influencers, journalists and bloggers to spread the word on our behalf. Once this happened, requests for interviews started pouring in, which changed the way we dispersed the project. Instead of trying to push the message out, we began controlling the conversation by only answering the requests of the most appropriate journalists and news outlets first.
By nature, the campaign had two types of audience members. The first was our micro-targeted audience. Specifically, those who tweeted about their #FirstWorldProblems and received a response from us. The second audience member was the everyday, active social media user.
It was also a content-driven content with no media support. So, the audience was grown by both the press we received, as well as word of mouth. In one instance, a single Facebook post by the group 'Everyone Matters' was shared 225,000 times. The project was also featured in every major news outlet, resulting billions of impressions.
The campaign became wildly popular thanks to a combination of successful social media strategy and a gut-wrenching message about life in the developing world. Featured in every major news outlet, the anthem received over 3 million views, Twitter followers increased 34%, YouTube subscribers increased 520% and the campaign reached more than one billion impressions. On top of that, #FirstWorldProblems tweets went from 5 hitting every second, to just a few every minute.
More important, the campaign changed a behavior. Instead of complaining about #FirstWorldProblems, people began using the hashtag to encourage donations, resulting in enough funds to provide over one million days worth of clean water to those in need.