ERGIN BINYILDIZ, CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER OF HAVAS TURKEY, EXPLORES THE RECENTLY DEVELOPED FINISH WATER INDEX, WHICH AIMS TO WAKE US UP TO THE STARK REALITY OF THE PLANET’S WATER DEPLETION.
The Finish Water Index pushes us to question why we place such value in currency, gold and oil, but haplessly waste our most valuable resource, water, each and every day.
Here, Ergin explores the collaborative work for Finish, the project’s global plans and why we need to wake up to the urgent threats facing our environment.
How did the Finish Water Index come to be?
The journey of Finish as a purpose brand started off almost two years ago. It has been a very fruitful collaboration between the client and the agency since. We started off with the most relevant aspect to the brand: the amount we waste when we pre–rinse our dishes and when we wash by hand. There’s a dishwasher in 90% of Turkish homes. Yet we keep washing by hand. And the detergent power makes pre-rinsing totally pointless. Basically, people are wasting needless amounts of water just out of habit.
From there, we slowly started to become the number one Turkish ambassador brand for water preservation. When that happens it gives you the license to be bolder about your statements. One of the issues that we came across (and one of the strongest insights) was this misconception that we have an endless amount of water in this world. Just because it was always there, doesn’t mean it will always be. When it is put like this, you slowly start realising that we are still using water like it is a commodity. This leads us to thoughtless consumption and the aim of the Finish Water Index was to put things into perspective. Water is something more precious than we realise because it is a vital resource, and we are not giving it half the thought we give to petty things. So, the idea of comparing it with what we deem precious, such as gold, oil and money, emerged.
Tell us about the collaboration and analysis involved in this project.
Well, first hats off to our client Reckitt Benckiser Turkey for continuously challenging us to find bolder, unconventional ideas. The idea comes from Havas Turkey who initiated it and devised it into a full-blown campaign with media and creative in true collaboration. We partnered with the Industrial Development Bank of Turkey (TSKB) and they were briefed to produce a certain index, based on forecasts, current resources, and the three principal areas of water consumption (agricultural use, industrial use and household use).
From there, a formula was produced, which is continuously computed. It is currently a weekly index where the new inputs go into the formula day by day. Every week, a new number is computed. This obviously requires continuous monitoring of these areas. This project took months as you can imagine. It required the joint effort of a whole ecosystem. 3dots on media, Cora the pr agency, Circus and Contentine for branded and influencer marketing and Proset for event organisation to name a few.
The Finish Water Index was launched at the Turkish Stock Market and its reports are now widely accessible through Turkish media, what has this experience been like?
The launch was quite exciting as you can imagine! But the most important thing about the Finish Water Index is where can people see it and access it. They can find it anywhere related to economics and value in Turkey. It can be found in the financial pages of newspapers, online and offline, it has been inserted into ticker tapes on the news and (with the right amount of coverage) I think we will eventually have experts talking about it on a regular basis in the same way they discuss foreign currency or the way they discuss the reality of oil or gold. That is the beauty of it. It is something that is going to stick around for a long time. It is the kind of thing that can change people’s perception of value, so that is the really exciting bit. We want to inject this into the culture and media as the Finish Water Index.
What does it feel like to work on projects that have such a powerful impact as this one has had?
It makes you feel exceptionally good about what you do, and it makes you feel like you are making a difference. This was my dream when I first got into advertising. To use the power of communication to do some good in this world. The real beauty is, we are at a stage where people can tell the difference between phony and sincere. Those brands that put a little bit of money into it and those who are really trying to make a difference by using their power in a way that matters. There is a critical difference between the two. When you are actually on the side of a brand that is truly trying to do some good for the planet, then you can look into the eyes of your kid and you can feel a lot happier about what you are doing in your everyday life.
Do you think the Finish Water Index will extend beyond Turkey?
Currently it is Turkey specific, but I think it should go bigger than that. Every country should and could be calculating their own water index using the same formula. They might have different variables, but it could still be done. I would imagine the constraints would be similar in every country. You could easily, as a sum, work on an index that is global, and I think that would be amazing. This is within our plans. It needs the effort of people in higher up ranks but we are planning to export this to other countries as well. We need to strive for a better future.