Would You Put Aside Your Smartphone to Provide Clean Water to a Thirsty Child?

UNICEF hopes you will.

Walk into a restaurant, shopping center or even a park and what do you see?  People using their smartphones to check weather, post on Facebook, send a text, answer a call, snap a photo or record a video.  Even in our living rooms, we cannot get enough of our electronic devices.

Have we become so addicted to technology that we cannot simply walk away?  Will our palms get sweaty and will we shake as if going through drug withdrawal if we fail to check our e-mail?  What can motivate a technology-addicted population to step away from their phones?

Perhaps a thirsty child.

In 2014, the UNICEF Tap Project leveraged emerging media to provide drinking water to those in desperate need of safe, clean water and sanitation.  The use of a simple web-based application calculates the minutes when a smartphone is in one position.  For each 10-minute period that a phone is not in use [or motion], a sponsor provides funding to help deliver clean water to the 768 million people worldwide who lack it.

Learn more by taking a few moments to watch UNICEF’s campaign video.

In order to keep smartphone addicted individuals engaged, UNICEF’s web site provides statistics including how many selfies are not being snapped, how many cat photos are not being viewed, how many photos not posted to Facebook during the time the smartphone is  idle.

UNICEF’s campaign cleverly encourages individuals to use emerging media [mobile phones and web apps] to abstain from using emerging media in order to give back.  Fabulous!

The 2014 mobile campaign, sponsored by Giorgio Armani, was active for a single month, World Water Month 2014.  The 2014 campaign was incredibly successful.  UNICEF reported that, “together people have gone over 200 million minutes without their phones to help children in need of clean water“.

While the campaign has ended, the web app remains active.  The Tap Project’s web site is also active in order to accept donations for those who may have missed the mobile challenge.

Individuals in a marketing capacity are encouraged to spend some time reviewing the campaign.  It is simple, creative, leverages emerging media and engages its target audience all while working toward a goal of social responsibility.

What do you think about using emerging media for social causes?  Are there any other organizations that you are aware of that use emerging media in a socially responsible manner?  Do you believe that UNICEF should use the same approach for 2015?  Would you participate?  How long do you think you can leave your phone idle?  Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.


About Kimberly Coleman

I am a graduate student at WVU in Integrated Marketing Communications. I reside in Western North Carolina and enjoy all the beautiful nature this area has to offer.
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