All it took was a simple challenge from Esquire and a free page in the magazine for David Droga to create what would eventually become the Tap Project, now a global humanitarian effort and brand. Named one of the "Best and Brightest" in said publication's December 2006 issue, the Droga5 creative chairman took his page, avoided any predictable advertising moves and, partnering with pro bono client UNICEF, announced a simple idea based around water. The Tap Project was launched last year in New York to commemorate March 22nd as World Water Day and asked patrons of several participating restaurants in the Big Apple to tack on a minimum of $1 to their bill for every glass of tap they drank, which would thus help provide drinking water to 40 children a day. After reaching over 80 million people through media outlets, earning praise and action from celebs and politicians, Tap garnered Droga5 a Titanium Lion at Cannes 2007. But more importantly, the initial effort earned UNICEF over $5 million, the equivalent of 1.7 million days' worth of water for children. After having rolled out across 30 cities in North America this year, the project has continued to thrive and will expand internationally in 2009.
Q&A with Droga5 Creative Chairman David Droga
Esquire gave you a blank canvas to work on, and you came up with the Tap Project. Where did the idea come from?
Droga: I'm in the business of building brands, so as an exercise, I wanted to see if I could build a brand from a single-page ad out of nothing and create something. I thought I didn't want to do it for any of our existing clients or for just commercial reasons. I was just really interested in the whole global water issue. At this step, UNICEF wasn't even involved. This was my intent, that I wanted to do it for water. I already knew some of the facts, but I did a lot more research and the more I learned about what UNICEF was doing particularly around the world with children and this water issue, the more I thought this is an opportunity that only fits UNICEF.
I had the thought about building a brand out of tap water. I just knocked on UNICEF's door. It's invisible to us literally. We sit in restaurants, bistros and bars and have a glass of water for nothing, and we don't even think about it. When you go into the statistics, it's horrifying. Then, I pitched the idea to Esquire saying that's what I wanted to do with my one page. To their credit, they were all over it and actually turned it into a three-page thing. Then, we organized everything from the ground up. We organized the celebrity chefs because we knew if we got the top 15 chefs in the country like Mario Batali, then other chefs and restaurants would want to be a part of it. Then, we organized the PR and got Sarah Jessica Parker as an ambassador and it just started to unfold where more and more people started to see the benefit of the idea. And only after we created the design, logos and brand identity and advertising for it.