If those save the children infomercials are any indication, drawing on a guilty conscience is one way to compel American audiences to step off their cushy couch and cough up a donation. Waterislife.com and its ad agency DDB NY both appear toave a pretty solid grasp of this phenomenon.
In a video released last week, the clean water charity urges people to donate to poverty-stricken Haitians by capitalizing on one of the Internet’s most widespread memes: First World Problems.
According to Know Your Meme, the first world problems meme was first introduced into Urban Dictionary way back in 2005, but it really took prevalence beginning in 2011. Image macros created from this meme feature healthy-looking, usually white people sobbing with “first world problems” like “I had too much food for lunch and now I’m tired” imposed in bold text on top of the image. The dedicated subreddit for this meme, r/firstworldproblems, has almost 100,000 subscribers.
Now, Waterislife.com has released a viral video showing destitute Haitians reading tweets from the #FirstWorldProblems hashtag, like, “When I have to write my maid a check but I forget her last name,” transforming what was supposed to be a (somewhat) self-aware whine into a motivation to give to charity.
“Donate to help solve real world problems,” urges the website. The effect is pretty devastating, and it’s got to be one of the more compelling ad campaigns we’ve seen in some time.
“We’re not setting out to humiliate people who have used the #FirstWorldProblems hashtag,” DDB New York’s chief creative officer Matt Eastwood said in a statement, obtained by Business Insider. Still, that effect seems to happen all on its own.
Of course, not everyone is open to receiving Waterislife.com’s message. “Omg those people understand!!! I hate all those things too,” reads the top YouTube comment.
You can donate to the campaign here.