Due to COVID-19, people across the globe have started washing their hands more often. The World Health Organization (WHO) advisory calls for washing hands for at least 20 seconds. But, this seems to have given rise to a water crisis.
Recently, Wunderman Thompson South Asia conceptualised a digital film titled ‘The Washout’ for Tata Steel. The film, produced by Little Lamb Films, is based on a social experiment, wherein, people were asked to send in videos of their handwashing routine.
“Just before COVID-19 hit, the major focus was on the water shortage problem around the world, and how it’s going to impact the future. With the fear of COVID-19 suddenly taking centre stage, and the message of handwashing bombarding the media, the water woes took a backseat for the time being. No one talked about closing the tap while washing your hands. In most videos being circulated, the water being wasted became a blind spot for everyone. We at Wunderman Thompson wanted to highlight the issue in a way where we wanted to grab the attention of the viewer through yet another handwashing video, and bring in the water wasting habit as a surprise at the very end,” says Arjun Mukherjee, VP and executive creative director, Wunderman Thompson, Kolkata.
“The challenge for the production house was how to pull this through, considering the scenario. Also, the shots had to be presented in a believable way. So, we zeroed in on people who’re into filmmaking. DOPs, directors, assistant directors and so on, who had a good idea of how to shoot and make the frame look good. Then we chose only those wash basins which were conducive for us and asked the family members to show us how they washed their hands with soap properly. Each and every shot and angle was remotely directed, and going with the ethos of the film, we made sure that not a single drop of water was wasted,” added Mukherjee.
With so many ‘home-made ads’ around, what were the challenges involved in creating the film from home? Says Mukherjee, “The first challenge is when there’s a limitation to shoot, then the idea and content has to be that much stronger for the film to work, irrespective of the quality of the shots. Second, because everything is being managed remotely, the pre-production work had to be that much stronger to avoid any hiccups. Patience is very important in the current scenario because not everything can go according to plan, and the flexibility should be there to course-correct accordingly.”
Meanwhile, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently faced backlash for a similar reason during his #SafeHands challenge video on Twitter. The public health initiative was a step-by-step guide meant to demonstrate the best handwashing practices. Although, throughout the video, the water from the tap kept running, leading to widespread disappointment.