Behind the Work in association withThe Immortal Awards
Havas Chicago on Using Advertising ‘White Space’ to Represent the Water Sustainability Problem
Advertising Agency
New York, USA
LBB’s Ben Conway speaks to the Havas Chicago creative team about the collaboration with Moen for World Water Day, showing ‘0.5% Is All We Have’

Havas has been the agency of record for the American faucets and fixtures product line, Moen, for over five years, helping to create equally innovative campaigns for the kitchen and bathroom faucet specialist’s innovative products and communicate their purpose. ‘Mission Moen’ is the company’s commitment to improving and preserving the world’s oceans and freshwater bodies - they aim to save one trillion gallons of water and repurpose 2,000 tons of ocean plastic by 2030, all while helping customers get the most out of their water.

For World Water Day this year, Havas Chicago - inspired by Mission Moen - collaborated with the faucet brand to promote its commitment and to raise awareness of the global water sustainability problem. The campaign ‘0.5% Is All We Have’ was catalysed by a “compelling piece of data” - that only 0.5% of the planet’s water is usable to humans. This statistic became the focus of the campaign’s designs and messaging, which involved social media creative, billboards, a Times Square display and a takeover of the New York Times and The Guardian - all of which showed a physical representation of the little amount of usable water there is on the planet. 

Havas Chicago explains that Moen was very involved in the creative process, saying, “Our process with Moen is very modern, very fluid and iterative. Sure there are meetings, and everyone is moving at warp speed in general. But it’s very much not the traditional ‘big reveal’.” The statistic that lies at the project’s heart was, amazingly, discovered by the seven-year-old son of a Havas Chicago creative director - before being vigorously fact-checked via the Bureau of Reclamation. On developing this fact into a fully-fledged campaign, the Havas Chicago team says, “The visual language of the campaign made developing it very easy. The model is so intelligent and straightforward that it offers endless forms of applications. We can make any object a part of our campaign. Facing this water problem visually helps to better understand where we stand.”

The team describes the unveiling of the campaign’s concept as a “holy shit moment” that became a “compelling, alarming and immediate” campaign due to how the art direction and writing was applied. “There was some refinement of the core look and feel and a lot of time spent contemplating where to place the message. It was - and is - simple and smart. And forces the issue of water availability right into our everyday lives.”

The campaign was produced using a combination of Havas’ production partner Carbon VFX and the internal Havas Studio team. Which the team says benefits the creative process by allowing the creatives to incorporate production discussions into the concepting stage, speeding up asset delivery and “helping to craft production solutions from the concept inception.”   

To take advantage of the “white space” and really contextualise how little water is fresh and available, the Havas Chicago team wanted to use formats with significant real estate to “elicit instant awareness” and educate the audience, whether that be in OOH, digital, print or social. Havas Chicago says, “The media team from Moen really scored with some amazing placements. We collaborated with their team to strategically place our message in high-traffic areas, like the centre of Times Square. In addition to OOH, we took over the NY Times back cover - typically filled with visuals or copy - and utilised the white space to our advantage.” Although not considered a “make-or-break” for the campaign, the creative team praised the completely white Times Square billboard for “conquering the space” among a “jungle of advertising lights.”

Fortunately, the agency team found few challenges with the campaign - despite a few conceptual executions that didn’t come to fruition - largely due to how simple and replicable the creative was, as well as Moen’s authenticity and its ‘Mission Moen’ commitments that didn’t require any “marketing spin” to be communicated. “The beauty of the idea is how extendable it was - and is. So much so that we’re already planning a ‘next chapter’ for World Ocean Day, coming up later this year,” says Havas Chicago.

The team explains that the campaign has exceeded any engagement predictions they had, roughly tripling the expected social media interactions. “Even a year ago, there wasn’t wide knowledge of what Mission Moen was, but this campaign allowed us to show up in full force across a variety of well-known touchpoints (NY Times, Reddit, The Guardian, Times Square)  that helped raise awareness on water scarcity and the impact of Mission Moen.”

“Please remember this campaign whenever you’re using water. It’s such a precious resource. And we need to respect it much more than we are.”