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Why This Water Saving Campaign Is Working: Simplicity Plus Humor Wins Every Time

Drop-A-Brick is selling faux bricks for people to put into their toilet tanks to save water. Here’s what you can learn from its tone and technique.

This October a small not-for-profit grassroots initiative, Drop-A-Brick, is pleading with people, particularly those living in drought-stricken California, to drop a brick in their toilets. In every bathroom in fact. And if enough people drop bricks, millions of gallons of water could be saved per week. The campaign is cheeky (pardon the pun) and attention grabbing, but best of all, it’s dead simple.

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See, while asking people to “drop a brick” may have those who love a little potty humor grinning, the call to action is actually not a joke or a metaphor, but a fabulous eco-innovative concept whereby literally putting a rubber brick into the water tank of a single toilet will save roughly 50 gallons per week. It actually couldn’t be more straightforward.

And for those living in drought conditions in California, there’s nothing funny about the dire need to conserve water. Facing what is thought to be one of the worst droughts on record, Governor Brown declared California in an official state of emergency back in January. The timing couldn’t be better for real and easy solutions to water waste.


Enter Drop-A-Brick, which is currently campaigning on the Indiegogo crowd-funding platform hoping to secure $80,000 to scale this innovation (to date they’ve raised more than $22,000). If you’re familiar with the technique of putting real bricks in water tanks to serve the same purpose, you might be wondering why you should donate to this project. Well, unlike real bricks, Drop-A-Brick, won’t ruin your toilet, will form to any tank, is made from eco-friendly materials, and ships at only nine ounces.

And yet, this simple product could help conserve drinking water for communities in need, while saving you tons on your household water bill. As an info graphic on the Drop-A-Brick page exposes, Californians waste an incredible amount of water through toilet flushing. How can they afford not to drop bricks? And for a $12 donation, you actually get one of the bricks mailed to you.

And then there’s the campaign video, “Drop a Brick in Your Toilet–Feels Great” featuring people of all ages, sitting on all kinds of toilets with a script cleverly designed to leverage the double entendre of “dropping a brick” to make you squirm, giggle, and ideally share it with your friends because, quite simply, people love poo jokes.

I would have loved to see a retailer pick this up and get behind the initiative to make distribution more accessible. And some fun incentives that could drive conversation and uptake would have been great as well. But kudos to the creators for doing something inventive and concrete.

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Key take away: For organizations looking to develop breakthrough campaigns that will engage citizens in their cause, there’s nothing more powerful than a simple, practical and actionable idea. Except possibly one that makes you smile.

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About the author

Phillip Haid is the Co-Founder and CEO of PUBLIC Inc., a Toronto based cause-marketing agency and incubator that believes profit & purpose should go hand-in-hand. PUBLIC is working with corporations and charities across North America to redefine “social good” and bring a new approach to cause marketing.

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