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Compelling need for water conservation

The compelling need for water conservation was jointly spotlighted by Bombay's Municipality and the Ad Club in a mass media campaign that


announced: "Water is precious. Save Water" or wards to that effect.

The campaign which ran a few years back was applauded as a successful example of advertising for a public purpose. But was it successful? Last week the same Municipal Corporation announced that as much as 35 per cent of the city's water supply flows wastefully out of leaky and open taps. Merely to exhort the public to act in such-and-such a manner hardly ever does the trick. Preaching is not persuasion.

In order to enlist public support to tackle a generalized problem , social communicators suggests three steps: 1. Dramatize the enormity of the problem. 2. Show how the problem crucially affects the individual. 3. Instruct him on simple action(s) he can take towards solving the problem.

The Singapore government is running a very evocative campaign in this regard. An example of this can be found in every shelf of every hotel bathroom. An eye-catching display card says: "Please help us to conserve water."

Copy: "Dear Guest. A very warm welcome to Singapore! You'll find our water fresh and sparkling clear. It's also safe to drink from the tap. Our small island has limited water resources. Over S$365 million was spent on new water projects in the last decade. Another s$500 million would be spent in the next five years. Getting good water to you had not been easy. During your stay, please assist us in our effort to use water economically. Some tips on how you can help us appear behind this card. Thank you and enjoy your stay."

On the back of the card is a water saving guide. It offers the kind of down-toearth information that all effective communication should convey. A water crisis has hit Britain in the last few days with employees of UK's Water Board on partial strike and threatening a total shut-down. The country is thus bracing itself to for going completely dry. The National Water Council is issuing a series of advertisements coaching the householder in practical things he can do to stretch whatever little water comes his way.

Headline: Water Services: During this emergency your water supply is under strain. So... Use less water to help your supply last longer. Where possible take showers not baths. Save used water for other purposes. Don't just pull the plug. Catch as much rain water as you can. There are lost of ways you can use it. 500 million gallons of water are normally flushed down the lavatory. So of you keep a bucket of used water or rain water for flushing, you'll save gallons. Automatic washing machines use a lot of water. Wash by hand.

Or, if you have to machine wash, make sure you have a full load. Gem Sanitary Appliances (India) is advertising new bathroom fittings. They have framed their message in a "public service" context. They admonish the prospective buyer to Save Water. And suggest that their taps assist. Somewhat tepid logic. Gem has missed the opportunity of helping the fight against water wastage.
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