DDB New York Puts #FirstWorldProblems into Perspective

Agency Launches First Ever Project to Eliminate Insensitive Social Media Meme and Refocus Attention on Real Issues

DDB New York announced recently that it is attempting to eliminate the #FirstWorldProblems hashtag on Twitter – the first mission to wipe out, instead of promote, a trending hashtag. #FirstWorldProblems showcases concerns that seem irritating to those living in wealthy, industrialized countries, yet come across as rather callous when compared to the issues faced by those struggling to survive in many parts of the world. Though meant in jest, these tweets about “problems”–such as having to get up to change the TV channel or a phone charger that won’t reach the bed — also reveal a lack of sensitivity about serious social and health concerns and the ways that social media users can help alleviate real problems.


This #FirstWorldProblems initiative was created in partnership with WATERisLIFE, a non-profit organization addressing the global crisis arising from the dearth of drinkable water around the world – an issue that leads to malnutrition, infection, and even untimely death. Featuring the tagline “Help solve real problems,” the effort is designed to raise awareness of the plight of those less fortunate and put our privileged lives into perspective, with the ultimate dual goal of ending #FirstWorldProblems altogether and raising money to fight world thirst. Currently, there are approximately five #FirstWorldProblems tweets per second.


This fall, DDB New York and a film crew traveled to Haiti to film a variety of locals reading aloud a series of #FirstWorldProblems tweets and providing brief commentary on the Twitter users’ “struggles.” Each resulting response video is now being tweeted to the original #FirstWorldProblems author with a simple call to action: Donate to help solve real problems. A collection of these responses has been edited into a 60-second video viewable on youtube.com/thegiftofwater.

Haiti is the poorest region in the Western Hemisphere, with an average annual salary ofUS$100. In recent years alone, Haiti has struggled with political upheaval, health emergencies, hurricanes, and a destructive earthquake that left the capital city, Port-au-Prince, in rubble and displaced more than 500,000 Haitians. In other words, Haiti is a country fighting to overcome real adversity, and there is no place more appropriate to show the juxtaposition between first and third world problems.


“We’re not setting out to humiliate people who have used the #FirstWorldProblems hashtag,” said Matt Eastwood, Chief Creative Officer at DDB New York. “Rather, the project encourages people to think before they tweet. There are much more important problems in the world than not getting a hot-enough latte in the morning. By highlighting real world problems we hope to encourage people to give to those in real need.”


“We were very excited when the team approached us with this idea,” said Kristine Bender, Executive Director of WATERisLIFE. “People are becoming desensitized to suffering and we needed to enter the social space with a provocative approach to get those who are lucky enough to have simple things such as water, food, and shelter to reflect on their 140 characters and support causes like WATERisLIFE.”


The campaign features 30 custom online video responses to Twitter users employing the #FirstWorldProblems hashtag, in addition to a 60-second online “anthem” video. WATERisLIFE is also pleased to receive support via Twitter for this project from multiple celebrities including Christina Milian (@CMilianOfficial), Bella Thorne (@bellathorne), Leonor Varela (@Leonorvarela), Kara DioGuardi (@kara_dioguardi), Taylor Jacobson (@taylorjacobsonn) and Tinsley Mortimer (@TinsleyMortimer) among others.


The agency hopes that buzz on websites and over social media will promote the initiative as well as raise awareness about the WATERisLIFE organization. Donations will go towards creating water solutions and helping to rebuild communities. To learn more go to the WATERisLIFE website (http://www.waterislife.com), where information can be found about how people can get involved by donating either their time or money.


YouTube Channel: youtube.com/thegiftofwater
Anthem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxyhfiCO_XQ

Agency: DDB New York
Chief Creative Officer: Matt Eastwood
Executive Creative Director: Menno Kluin
Head of Production: Ed Zazzera
Producer: Lindsey Hutter
Copywriter: Frank Cartagena
Art Director: Sam Shepherd
Director/Editor: Alec Helm
Designer: Juan Carlos Pagan
Motion Graphics: Gina Lin
Music: In The Groove Music

Kaya Lobaczewski DDB Worldwide Associate Director of Communications, DDB U.S

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