In the midst of the hoopla and excitement of Super Bowl 50, Colgate ran a small quiet ad during the second half of the game to make a stark point about water conservation. In case you missed it, the ad begins with a man turning on a bathroom faucet and starting to brush his teeth.
As the water runs, the ad demonstrates how water wasted down the drain could be used by other people. Someone washes a pear in the faucet stream. Someone else fills a small bowl. Then, providing the ad’s emotional punch, a young girl in a threadbare sweater cups her hands under the tap to drink. As she does, the ad points out brushing teeth with the faucet running wastes up to four gallons of water, more than many people have access to in a week.
The ad is part of a larger campaign, which includes a microsite (everydropcounts.colgate.com) and the hashtag #everydropcounts. The microsite encourages people to pledge to turn off their water while brushing their teeth, a commitment that can save up to eight gallons of water a day. At present, 18,196 people have taken the pledge, representing a savings of 145,678 gallons a day.
Colgate made the ad with the assistance of the Nature Conservancy and is committed to the campaign; Super Bowl ad space doesn’t exactly come cheap. Colgate hopes to make most of this investment back in sales, but that doesn’t detract from their decision to spend 30 seconds of Super Bowl ad time educating people on the importance of water conservation.
It’s difficult not to feel emotional watching that small child in the commercial drink. It’s a reminder to all of us in the U.S. and other developed countries that we can, and sometimes choose to, take water for granted. This is a luxury millions of people cannot even imagine.
We can also choose to do what Colgate suggests: We can turn off the tap. It’s why Pelican remains committed to green technology and water conservation, whether it be through the new cardboard baler we recently installed in our main facility or by designing salt-free water softeners that don’t produce any wastewater.
The millions of water-poor children Colgate’s little girl represents are out there, and unless we do something, their numbers will only grow. We can do something about that, even if only by turning off the tap.