Social media marketing: How #FirstWorldProblems was hijacked by WATERisLIFE

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Water is life worked with advertising agency DDB New York to hijack the popular #FirstWorldProblems and launch the ‘hashtag killer’. The ‘hashtag killer’ campaign was set out to eradicate the ironic #FirstWorldProblems used when people tweet about life burdens such as their phone battery dying or when leather seats aren’t heated and create awareness for serious issues in developing countries.


Case study summary

• Water is Life launched the first campaign to reverse trend a popular hashtag on social media

• Water is Life and advertising agency DDB New York created the hashtag killer campaign

• The campaign received enough donations to give 1 million days of clean water to those in need

• The campaign won three awards at the Cannes Lions 2014 awards and has been viewed over 6 million times on YouTube

The challenge

Creating a high impact humanitarian campaign is a huge first world problem that Water is Life wanted to tackle. Working with advertising agency DDB Water is Life came up with the bold idea to reverse a hashtag in order to promote awareness of the world water crisis and put trivial first world problems into perspective.

The solution

The hashtag killer campaign was launched. The 60 second video campaign sees Haitians (many of whom are orphans) standing in their poverty stricken country after an earthquake; recite actual tweets that people have jokingly written using the hastag #FirstWorldProblems.

Building on this the campaign then showed more Haitians console those who had used the hashtag e.g. “Dear Jordan, my name is Sadrock, if I was there I would get your charger for you”. The campaign was picked up by celebrities, influencers and news outlets – which increased awareness of the crisis. The hashtag killer campaign, grew on social media and Water is Life were able to change the conversation, instead of complaining about trivial things, people began to use the hashtag to spread the message of the crisis and encourage people donate money.

The results

The campaign generated awareness and Water is Life’s message spread all over social media. The YouTube video has been viewed over 6 million times. The campaign also won three awards at the Cannes Lions 2014 awards (1 x Gold and 2 x Bronze).

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