WaterAid campaign highlights the impact of community

The uplifting ‘First Cup’ campaign from Don't Panic tells a story of celebration and togetherness

Georgie Moreton

Deputy Editor, BITE Creativebrief


“Grandma spent her life without clean water. Now Lucia doesn’t have to.”

A new campaign from WaterAid challenges the usual conventions of charity advertising to focus on the positive impact of WaterAid. The campaign, ‘First Cup’ tells an uplifting story of togetherness.

The campaign, which has been created with the help of independent agency Don't Panic, centres around a film entitled ‘First Cup’. The film is inspired by the real experiences and insights from community members of the WaterAid project. It tells the story of a village where the local community are celebrating a newly completed borehole installed in partnership with WaterAid.

The film follows the story of Lucia, a girl from Zomba, Malawi. As the chief of her community announces that they now have reliable access to clean water for the first time, the crowd watching on begins to cheer. While the rest of the crowd rejoice in celebration, Lucia instead remains silent, eyes fixed on the water pump. When the moment is right Lucia runs toward the pump to fill up a metal cup. She then runs through the community carrying the filled cup carefully. Rather than taking a sip of the water she runs through the landscapes, past football players, into the town over a bridge to meet with her Grandmother.

Upon the reunion Lucia passes her Grandmother the cup as a voice-over tells the audience; “Grandma spent her life without clean water. Now Lucia doesn’t have to.” The young girl shares her water with her Grandmother, who has spent much of her life without clean water, but can now be the first to drink from the new pump.

The heartwarming story of togetherness strikes a chord with audiences who are shown first-hand the impact that WaterAid has on communities combined with the act of kindness and sharing between families. With the help of WaterAid Lucia will not need to grow up like her Grandmother without clean water.

In a world where ‘permacrisis’ has become the norm, charities face a difficult challenge to connect meaningfully with audiences. Where many are left ‘empathy fatigued’ the First Cup campaign cuts through by showcasing the power of community and human connection. By focusing on the uplifting impact and results that donations can have, audiences are more compelled to interact knowing that they can make a true, meaningful difference. For many, living without clean water is unimaginable, but 771 million people, or 1 in 10 people around the world continue to live without it. Through the power of storytelling, showing the different generations and Lucia’s long journey to her Grandmother, WaterAid manages to convey the issue in a way that resonates with audiences. 

“Having access to clean water is transformative, but in Malawi one in three people still don’t have this simple but essential resource. Working directly with the community to create this awareness raising film was a privilege. There will be other girls of a similar age to Lucia who walk miles for water, often missing school to do so. This has to change. Small moments – such as a first cup of water - can represent huge changes. This is why we are here as WaterAid – to work with communities to bring clean water to them and future generations.” added Dennis Lupenga, Cultural Director & Voices from the Field Officer, WaterAid.

Since its inception, WaterAid has reached 28.5 million people with clean water by providing taps they can rely on close to home, school and work, so people can stay healthy. By showcasing the invaluable impact of the work the charity does, the First Cup campaign aims to inspire people to come together, support communities and continue to help improve the lives of people around the world.

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