Why Matt Damon’s Toilet Strike Matters

matt damon water_opt

The premise of water.org’s new video campaign is simple; until there is clean water and sanitation for all of the world’s citizens, rich and poor, Matt Damon is on toilet strike. However, the campaign also points to an emerging trend of using comedy in charity campaigns.

Traditionally, nonprofits attempted to use the sheer power of statistics accompanied by heart-wrenching images to support their cause. In a changing media climate, organizations are realizing that the way to attract the public’s attention is to not only appeal to pathos, but to make them laugh.

Water.org is attempting, like most advertising firms, to make an online viral video. If viewers find the video entertaining enough, the impacting message of the campaign will quickly spread. This mode of communication differs drastically from a strictly television or radio campaign that relies on a viewer coming into contact with the message at a certain time in a certain place. Online videos can be viewed at one’s own convenience and on mobile devices making them readily available to anyone with internet.

Mike McCamon, who runs Water.org’s community outreach program, explains that the intent of this non-traditional PSA is to get more people engaged and interested. Once the viewer is hooked by the video, the traditional non-profit mode of operation comes into play on the organization’s website. There are a slew of statistics and images that highlight the importance of the company’s vision of “the day when everyone in the world can take a safe drink of water”.

The message behind Water.org and Matt Damon’s toilet strike is a crucial aspect of development, but the video also points to a trend that is larger than a single nonprofit organization. If nonprofits can successfully blend humor with their important and often moving campaigns, they are more likely to attract attention to their cause and help more people in poverty, and in this case, those without clean water and sanitation.

Access the video here.

Sean Morales
Source: Los Angeles Times
Photo: NYDailyNews