Nevada, Empowered

NEW YORK When an agency makes its mark with ads that invite people self indulge, can it be as adept at urging the public to conserve a basic resource? We get an indication from a TV spot by R&R Partners—the agency that gave us “What happens here, stays here” for Las Vegas—for the Southern Nevada Water Authority. The underlying problem for the SNWA is, as the commercial points out, “It’s a desert out there!” Water is in short supply, which is why the locals must be persuaded to take water conservation seriously. Beginning with a reveille-like trumpet blast and a sunrise vista of the Mojave Desert, the spot tells us this is not just another day in southern Nevada. “Millions of concerned citizens are throwing in to conserve water.” But if the phrase “concerned citizens” makes you think of earnest people with brows furrowed, the visuals suggest the phrase is used somewhat tongue-in-cheek. The exuberant locals seem to be having a grand old time as they turn off sprinklers, cover an immense backyard swimming pool (to reduce evaporation) and replace thirsty grass landscaping with more suitable desert flora. The vignette ends with a couple peeking around an opaque shower curtain as they conserve water by sharing a shower. Are these folks having as much fun as the sybarites in the Las Vegas tourism commercials? Maybe not quite. But there’s no aura of hair-shirted self-denial here, which is often an off-putting feature of ads that urge us to conserve something. With viewers persuaded that saving water isn’t such an onerous task, more of what happens in the aquifer will stay in the aquifer.