Charity: Water and BuzzFeed Cook Up Tasty Videos With a Disgusting Twist

DigitasLBi's recipe for clean water

Headshot of Katie Richards

663 million people around the world are living without clean water—dirty water kills more people in the world than all types of violence combined, even war. Yet many people still don't seem to know or understand the gravity of the situation. Charity: Water, an organization dedicated to giving people all over the world access to clean water, wanted to find a way to show, not just tell, people how damaging dirty water can be.

In partnership with Charity: Water and BuzzFeed, DigitasLBi created a series of Tasty videos, which will run on the BuzzFeed Partner Facebook page and the BuzzFeed's Snapchat Discover channel, for the "Fight Dirty" campaign, in celebration of the organization's 10th anniversary. Charity: Water is the first nonprofit to partner with Tasty. 

These new Tasty videos are slightly different from the ones you might be used to seeing in your Instagram feed. Viewers will still see all of the required ingredients and the step-by-step process to complete the recipe, but there a surprise special ingredient in each video.

DigitasLBi, which created the work entirely pro-bono, substituted a simple ingredient that many people take for granted, clean water, with highly-polluted water, painting it as a bad guy—someone to take a stand against. "People pay more attention and get more engaged in things when there's an enemy to fight against. People are more willing to fight against than to fight for," Jennifer Awasano, vp, creative at DigitasLBi, told Adweek.

In each of the three videos—one for a Typhi Superfood Smoothies, one for Hirundea-infused Lemonade and another for Anabaeana Skillet Cornbread—polluted water replaces the expected clean water showing a disgusting end product. Some of the steps within each video add to the dramatic effect of the visuals, including avoid skin contact when pouring the batter, add two drops of bleach to kill Typhoid bacteria and strain out leeches. 

The idea, according to Charity: Water's brand content lead Tyler Riewer, is to "catch people in an everyday moment and bring people into reality. Each of these videos unpacks what it looks like to have dirty water as a part of your life."

The team wanted to create videos that fit within the same format as all of BuzzFeed's other Tasty videos. That included the upbeat music you'll hear when you watch one of them.

"We thought there was something really interesting as you are seeing these leeches plop into the drink, there's sort of a cognitive shock when you are hearing this music and you're seeing something that is really different," Awasano added.

The new creative is definitely a step in a different direction for Charity: Water, with some of the nonprofit's most recent work including an ongoing campaign to pledge your birthday. Instead of accepting gifts in celebration of another year, participants are encouraged to accept donations to fund clean water. "Fight Dirty" aims to move away from the possibility of guilt tripping viewers with tear-jerking work to raise donations for clean water around the world.

"All of it is solvable; the problem is really money and effort. It's a problem we can fix if we can get people to take notice," Riewer added. 


Agency: DigitasLBi

CCO: Ronald Ng

EVP, Executive Creative: Atit Shah

SVP, Creative: Doris Chung

VP/Group Director, Creative: Jennifer Awasano

Associate Director, Creative: Madeline Malachowski

Associate Director, Creative: Zoe Bell

Associate Art Director: Gabriella Ibrahim

EVP, Group Account Director: Jonathan Dupuis

Account Manger: Syril Smith

VP/GD, Executive Producer: Peter McCann

Associate Producer: Gretchen Hargrove

Director: Nick Fuglestad

Editor: Sricharan Rao

Production Company: MacGuffin Films 


@ktjrichards Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.