Unlike world wars or terrorism attacks, the global water crisis does not make it into the media headlines, which seems desperately ironic, as it has claimed more lives through the spread of disease than any war to date. It is a silent struggle endured mainly by the poor and tolerated by those with access to resources, technology and political power to ensure that it is kept at bay. That said, the message of it’s severity is slowly making it’s way through media channels and into the homes of even the most privileged.
One such campaign relating to scarcity of water resources both locally and globally is being air at the moment by and organisation called The Rose (Recycled Oils Saves the Environment) Foundation. The advert, which takes the form of a short radio commercial, is a highly emotive yet strictly informative call to action. The magnitude of the water crisis is effectively expressed to the audience through a narrator, who likens it to a world war, which he believes is on the horizon. The narrator moves his listeners by suggesting that the next world war will not be fought over land, oil or political ideals, but rather fresh drinking water which is being wasted and taken for granted everyday. The advert is not appealing to industries or to major power players, but rather to individual listeners. It suggests that we are all to blame for the misuse of water, while offering the listener the chance to change the situation. The call to action asks the audience to visit The Rose Foundation website to find out more information about how they can make a difference.
As mentioned before, I believe that the heart of the solution to the global water crisis is global awareness through communication. This is why I believe this advertisement to be so successful, as it is a clear and concise message telling individuals if we do not each change our living habits now that we are headed for disaster. It is of paramount importance that the public is aware of the implications that the global water crisis will have on their own lives in order for them to shift there perspective. Human beings care more about issues that affect them directly so in order to connect with them and motivate change, communicators working with governing bodies or NGO’s need to draw in an audience by illustrating how the lack of freshwater resources will have a direct impact on their lives.
The Rose Foundation has released various other print campaigns to raise awareness about the issue of water sustainability, however, in my opinion these have been less successful. The main function of the ad is to relay a scientific fact on to water-consumer, in particular oil users. For example, one of its print advertisements reads, “Do you know that one litre of used oil can contaminate one million litres of water.” While the fact is that of a shocking nature, I do not think that the advertisement is constructed in a way, which allows the foundation the opportunity to connect with the public on their level. The media are constantly pushing messages of this nature and as a result consumers have become thick-skinned. To employ a condescending tone would be to separate the consumer from the foundation.
Instead, the governing bodies and non-governmental organisations need to capture the essence of humankind’s affinity for water. If one looks back in history one can find a myriad ways in which people hold a strong and to some degree sacred, associations with water. For example the “holy water” which various religious groups use in blessings or baptism. Water symbolises purity and life to most people which should be key to creating effecting and moving pieces of communication that will bring about a change in the minds of people all over the world and inspire them to change the way that they lives their lives to ensure that it is less harmful to the environment.
The Rose Foundation has provided a platform, which allows for this paradigm shift by putting the power into the hands of the consumer and supplying them with necessary information on how they can adjust their living habits to align with water wise constraints. It aims to work together with government and other power players, for example, leading petroleum suppliers to start a revolutionary movement toward sustainable living.