JLS sign ‘Watergraphs’ for World Water Day by @dmhwhite

With World Water Day around the corner, JLS founder Oritsé Williams pledged his support for WaterAid this week by adding his name to the first ‘wategraph’, also known as a wall of water in London (No I didn’t know what it was either).

Supported by the HSBC Water Programme, the wall highlights the names of charity supporters and invites you to see your name in H2O after supporting the cause via text.

This is a great PR stunt in an effective location, with more than 105,000 employees walking through Canary Wharf each day, but the novelty of seeing your name dripping through Reuters Plaza wears thin as soon as you’ve taken a picture of it. What would mean more to people is if they were shown stories of those who will benefit from each donation?


I’ve seen lots of charities step up their PR and marketing efforts in recent months but they’ve all had one thing in common – they’ve been emotive – and this is what WaterAid lacks. In addition to this, it’s up against Sport Relief this weekend so it has to go above and beyond to generate media cut through. Here’s a reminder of what’s worked well:

Save the Children: It’s most shocking second a day video, highlighting the troubled lives of children in Syria, has generated more than 27m views in just 16 days.

SOS Children’s Villages: Its video, which captured passers by giving up their coats to a young boy who was sat in the cold at a bus stop in Norway, went viral generating 13m views to date.

Cancer Research: The #nomakeupselfie trend wasn’t even started by the charity, but in the last week it’s helped to raise £1m through awareness via social media.

See what I mean? It’s missing that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ and it shows. The stunt has failed to be picked up other than by The Wharf and industry website Brand Republic.  I could be wrong – national journalists could be keeping the photo-caption up their sleeves for the special date tomorrow but I doubt it. I rarely am.

The charity has plenty of celebrity supporters according to its website, including: Miranda Hart, Ringo Starr and Rachel Stevens. What I would’ve liked to see it do is use their bank of inspirational stories, of when they’ve seen WaterAid’s work first hand in other countries, and integrate them into the stunt to inspire others. This could’ve been done with a video montage behind the water wall, which could run in sync with what’s being said. Alternatively, it could have installed interactive tablets around the fountain to offer more information about why World Water Day is so important.

Good PR is thirsty work. What do you make of WaterAid’s campaign?


Donna White is a PR officer at The Prince’s Trust and runs a PR blog called Prime Time (PR in My Eyes). She also tweets from @dmhwhite.