WaterAid's touching animation focuses the search for water on Earth, not Mars

Film from Don't Panic and director Neeraja Raj comes as three Mars missions arrive this week

Published On
Feb 09, 2021

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In the month that three Mars missions are set to arrive on the Red Planet, charity WaterAid sets out to remind us—never mind the excitement of finding water on a new planet, there are still communities that still can't get access to it on Earth. 

The film is a vibrant and touching animation by agency Don't Panic and Nexus Studios' recently-signed director Neeraja Raj. It tells the story of a little girl from Madagascar, who dreams of being an astronaut and makes a a homemade rocket in order to collect water for her family, after hearing a news report on the radio saying water has been found on Mars. Her mission fails, but thanks to WaterAid, running water does reach her village after all.

The voiceover, delivered by legendary U.K. news anchor Sir Trevor McDonald, reminds us that while some aspire to find H2O on Mars, some still dream of finding it on our own planet.The spot features a specially-composed cover version of David Bowie's "Life on Mars" as its soundtrack.

The film will air during peak times on the U.K.'s Channel 4 and is the first-ever animated ad by WaterAid. The charity opted for the medium while travel is restricted during the pandemic. In order to achieve authenticity, it worked closely with one of its "​Voices from the Field"​ communications specialists, Ernest Randriarimalala, on all aspects of the film, from recreating Madagascar’s landscape to details of the characters’ appearances. 

"This is a heartfelt tale based on real-life humans and their very real struggles," said director Raj in a statement. "We approached it with honesty and humility and chose to tell it through the visual language of traditional 2D animation to achieve an emotional vibrancy that is unique to the medium."


Feb 09, 2021
Client :
Water Aid
Agency :
Don't Panic-London
Mass Engagement Director :
Johnty Grey
Individual Giving Manager :
Victoria Laing
Head of Supporter Activation :
Nick Miller
Digital Acquisition Manager :
Wanji Wambari-Kairu
Founder :
Joe Wade
Creative Partner :
Rick Dodds
Strategy & Engagement Partner :
Ellie Moore
Senior Account Director :
Georgia Williams
Senior Project Manager & Producer :
Jennifer Clare Houlihan
Account Manager :
Alex Tilley
Creative :
Madeline Charles
Graphic Designer :
Luke Freeman
Production Company :
Nexus Studios
Director :
Neeraja Raj
Executive Producer :
Mike Bell
Producer :
Jo Bierton
Production Manager :
Nicole Lopez Naguil
Production Manager :
Elspeth Vince
Production Assistant :
Delfina Maria
Production Assistant :
Beatriz Honório
Project Lead :
Dylan White
2D Animatic :
Neeraja Raj
2D Animator :
Alex Potts
2D Animator :
Giacomo Autili
2D Animator :
Jesper Andkjær
2D Animator :
Christina Nerland
2D Animator :
Lucy Hirst
2D Animator :
Joel Stenback
Compositor :
Dylan White
Compositor :
Bethany Levy
Designer :
Hugo Beaurepere
Designer :
Melanie Climent
Designer :
Nikolas Franz
Matte Painting :
Hugo Beaurepere
Storyboarder :
Neeraja Raj
Storyboarder :
Morgan Ritchie
Editor :
Dave Slade
Sound :
String & Tins
Sound Design :
Culum Simpson
Foley :
The Foley Barn
Music :
Life on Mars
Music :
David Bowie
Music Arranged :
Will Cohen
Music Orchestrated & Produced :
Auburn Jam
Audio Producer :
Rachel Hough
Audio Producer :
Brigitte Leicht
Music Supervisor :
Dominic Bastyra
Music :
Wake The Town

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