Yesterday we posted a blog from one of our readers about their views on a recent WaterAid UK TV advert. We offered them the chance to respond yesterday evening resceived the following from them.
Our thanks go out to WaterAid for agreeing to respond and put forward their views to widen the debate.
WaterAid helps some of the world’s poorest people gain access to safe water, hygiene education and sanitation, which, as the article correctly states, are essential to end extreme poverty.
As an organization we are committed to the people we serve, and have a strict ethical policy on the procurement and use of images. We are passionate about protecting the dignity of the people we work with, as well as portraying an accurate picture of our work and its effects. We only photograph and film in communities where we work, or are going to work, and ensure that we have the consent of the people in the photographs and that they understand why we are taking images of them, and what they will be used for.
Our advertising allows us the opportunity to raise awareness of the situation, as well as being a means to raise vital funds for our work. The article is right in saying we do need to grab the UK audience’s attention because it is a challenge to find people willing to give £2 a month. But it is a challenge we have to tackle head on if we are to make that difference.
This is why the advert focuses on the very real and urgent need of 884 million people who are living without clean water – showing the need is an essential part of this narrative. It may be shocking, but the reality is shocking and we can’t shy away from showing this if we are to change it.
With our advertising we have to find an instant way to engage with people who are not always aware of the issues that face so many people in the world. We have found that people do react to a simple presentation of the facts: that 4,000 children are dying every day from diarrhoea. But the advert does also show the community building their own wells and pumps, which is a key way in which WaterAid works; helping people to help themselves.
We have to be aware of our audiences and tailor our narrative approach accordingly. We have actually tested other approaches that were less need focused, one just earlier this year, but it drove four times less response than this advert. We have a duty to our supporters to ensure every single penny we spend on advertising makes a good return – normally £4 to every pound spent .
There is an increasing debate over how images of poverty are used, and this is one that WaterAid welcomes, as our aim is to help people to lead a life of dignity, free of poverty.