'The Drinkable Book' Will Make It Safe to Drink the Water

DDB and Water is Life Create Manual Made of Water Filters

By Published on .

Creatives can get their next idea from anywhere -- even a scientific journal called Environmental Science & Technology.

It was while reading about the work of Theresa Dankovich, then a Ph.D. student at McGill University, that DDB designer Brian Gartside found out about the water filtration properties of paper impregnated with silver nanoparticles -- the cornerstone of the agency's newest campaign for longtime pro-bono client, Water is Life.

DDB New York and charity Water is Life have been behind some of the most-engaging ad campaigns of the last few years -- from the wryly funny "Hashtag Killer" to the more sobering "Kenya Bucket List."

Now, they have produced "The Drinkable Book," a manual that provides safe water tips, printed in non-toxic ink on paper coated with silver particles, which kills water-borne diseases like cholera, E. coli and typhoid.

Each book is 20 pages, and each filter last about 30 days -- giving people who receive it tools to have clean water for about a year. It features perforated edges that let you detach the filters, which can then be slid into the book's packaging (3D printed). Once water passes through, 99.99% of bacteria is reduced, making it comparable to tap water in the U.S.

The idea sounds gimmicky, but actually makes sense. The book itself costs just a couple of bucks to produce -- but that's with the printed instructions. The paper itself, which is like a coffee filter, is easy to produce, according to Ms. Dankovich. The paper is cheap, and infusing it with silver nanoparticles is easy. "Technically, you can make this in your kitchen," she said.

Water is Life is a big believer in "boots on the ground," according to founder Ken Surritte. So the books will go with teams traveling to parts of Africa, China and India, where they'll hold educational sessions on maintaining a clean water source. The books then be handed out to the people in those places. Matt Eastwood, chief creative officer at DDB, New York, said there's no set amount on how many books are going to be made. Right now, it has information in Hindi and English, but Mr. Eastwood plans to do versions in Haitian, Swahili and more.

Mr. Surritte said that before DDB, New York, his company did no paid advertising. The relationship, which began when Mr. Eastwood called him up and told him the agency would like to help, has resulted in donations jumping 500% in 2013 from the year prior, with all the money raised going to projects in the regions where campaigns were shot.

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